This I Believe

Shaffer, Robert Howard

  • Robert Shaffer describes his belief that a person's dreams drive his or her reality, and that individuals must have a sense of personal worth and value to derive any meaning from their life's work.
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Robert H. Shaffer is Assistant Dean of Students at Indiana University, in charge of counseling and student activities. In addition, he heads the American Personnel and Guidance Association and is associate editor of the Personnel and Guidance Journal. Here is Robert Shaffer's creed.
I believe that dreams make reality. It is my interpretation of the world, and my reaction to it, which determine my actions. Thus, no matter how fine or how base my actions are, they are
determined by my thoughts and aspirations--or my dreams, as I have called them. The only real limitations upon me are my own thoughts. There are far too many examples of individuals overcoming almost unbelievable material obstacles for me to accept the belief that the material obstacles, as such, are the real blocks to the achievement of satisfying goals in my life.
I know, as practically all of us do, some individuals who seem to have everything in the way of material comforts and security, and yet who are not at peace with themselves or with the world. A feeling of personal worth in the eyes of God is one of the most important single foundations of a person's life. Without a feeling of value as a worthwhile human being, any individual sees himself
as nothing more than an animal trying to avoid various dangers and threats. With such a view of myself, my efforts and possessions would become mere temporary advantages whose real worth and enjoyment would be lost in fear.
Contrast such a picture with what I believe to be a true view of ourselves as agents of an infinite plan for the establishment of peace, order, and security on the earth. In this picture, material advantages become mere tools to aid us and others in bringing our daily lives and actions into harmony with the overall plan. With such a view, the lack--or even loss--of certain of these material things, become actual sources of strength and power, much like the feeling of the young fisherman with
a stick for a pole, who catches more than the man with all the fancy equipment. I strive to equip myself with the best possible material tools, but their lack, as such, need not rob me of the satisfaction of knowing I can exemplify my true worth through my motives, thoughts, and actions.
Fundamental to my view of man's worth is the development of a recognition and appreciation of a supreme God, whether He be defined as principle, divine law, or what. Nothing else can contribute as much to peace of mind, serenity, and confidence to meet all problems, as a recognition that I need not go through this world alone or by my own isolated efforts. When I see myself as an agent of a stronger force and see life's problems from that point of view, countless problems disappear, and I receive
increased strength to do that which I need to do.
This belief, I feel, places tremendous responsibility upon me and every other individual--not only for my own peace and security but for the peace and security of the world. I must look within myself for the thoughts, motives, and aspirations required for my own peace of mind. Once I do understand this, I am freed from blind and sometimes frantic reliance upon other individuals and groups, and enabled to focus my thoughts and actions upon the real forces in life. I believe that the result will be lasting satisfactions, higher achievement, greater stability, and increased energy. Truly a person's dreams hold a promise of these things.
That was Robert Shaffer, Assistant Dean of Students of Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana. He is a former camp director and for five years, served on the national staff of the Boy Scouts of America.