This I Believe

Sokolsky, George E. (George Ephraim)


  • George Sokolsky talks about his experience abroad and how the experience affected his philosophy of life, politics, and religion.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. George Sokolsky, bushy-haired, stocky King Features columnist, was born in Utica, New York. He grew up in New York’s Lower East Side, but soon after college became a foreign correspondent in Russia during the first year of the revolution, then in China, where he lived for thirteen years. Today, George Sokolsky, the columnist, author, lecturer, industrial consultant and commentator, makes his home in Manhattan and on his Kim-Feng farm in Otis, Massachusetts. Here now his creed.
It so worked out that immediately after I was through with college, I left the United States. I went to Russia as a newspaperman. It was to be a short absence from the country, perhaps six months. I was away from this country nearly fourteen years. I missed an entire period of American history—World War I, prohibition, the jazz age, the prosperity of Harding and Coolidge, the Ku Klux Klan, the hip flask—all sorts of curiosities. I missed the beginnings of The Depression.
Those years I spent in Russia, in China, and Japan, I witnessed wars and revolutions and I lived among unbelievable poverty.
In fact, I’d become so accustomed to human suffering, to low standards of living, to a vast chasm between the rich and the poor, that when I returned to my own country in 1931, everything looked plentiful and prosperous to me, although everybody told me there was a depression.
Living outside the United States for a long period made this country particularly precious to me. It is a curious feeling about your own country; your own people are so far away. Every bit of news that came to us from America seemed so important. The Fourth of July was, for the Americans in Peking or Shanghai or Tokyo, so meaningful a festival.
It was impossible in this alien atmosphere not to make comparisons between the American civilization and the civilizations among which I lived. They were delightful, friendly, kindly human beings. In fact, I married one of them. But there was an essential difference in culture, in ideas of life, in the forms of civilization. And that essential difference was in the relationship of man to man, which is truly the relationship of man to God.
The problem that faced me throughout the thirty-four years that I have been writing about the forces and events of these days has been to find a guiding philosophy. For to writes without such guidance is to throw words together helter-skelter without real meaning.
I could have found such guidance in dozens of patterns of life, from such moderns as Hegel and Marx, or from Nietzsche or Bakunin. Many have gone to these fountains for inspiration, as others have to William James or John Dewey. Perhaps it was the traditions of my race or the teachings of my Rabbinical father or the influence of Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas.
Whatever the influence, more and more I have turned to the Bible and to the religions of God for my inspiration. And in the American Declaration of Independence, in its first 150 words, I have found a philosophy of politics based on natural law which has guided me in all my work.
Thomas Jefferson there penned a moral theory of government which stands firm in all of the confusions of our times. Each man must find his own creed in the traditions that discipline his mind and work. In the natural law, I have found mine.
Those were the beliefs of King Features columnist George Sokolsky.