This I Believe

Hannah, Joseph V.

  • Joseph Hannah, Professor of Psychology at New York University, describes his belief in the dignity of the human personality, and the right of an individual to pursue his or her own fulfillment, including responsibility to others.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dr. Joseph V. Hannah is Professor of Psychology at New York University. During the 28 years he has been there, he has served a number of organizations whose job it is to give people counsel about living and working. He has been particularly active on behalf of the YMCA, whose Veterans Advisement Service he helped to set up. Now he shares with us some of the things he has found important in his own experience. Dr. Joseph V. Hannah.
I hesitate to go on record with a statement of my beliefs, less such a statement become a code. The moment one subscribes to a code, it is likely to be no longer adequate in the light of changing conditions. Many of my beliefs naturally had their beginning in childhood. These early beliefs have been modified by influences of the world in which I have lived, a world quite different from the world of my parents. One becomes worthy of his childhood heritage only as he keeps it up to date. There are, however, many basic aspects of these early beliefs which are more enduring. These are the more important foundation stones of my present beliefs.
As a university professor and counselor of persons, I have developed a profound belief in the dignity and sacredness of the human personality. It follows that the freedom of the individual to be himself, so long as he meets his responsibility to society and to his neighbor, must be his birthright. I believe that we need not be protected against those normal anxieties which come from living adventurously and courageously in an uncertain world. Many over-solicitous parents permit their children to have little part in dealing with problems which are of vital interest to them. Even though our intentions are good, we thus prevent others from developing intellectual and emotional maturity. One of the chief tenets of my belief in the integrity of the individual of any age is that within the limits of his powers, he be encouraged to make his decisions for himself.
I believe that we find it easier to seek and enjoy our many privileges than to measure up to our corresponding responsibilities. This suggests the need for an important corollary to the Golden Rule: Let us not expect others to do for us that which we are capable of doing for ourselves. This does not imply a callous indifference to our obligation to be our brothers keeper quite the contrary. I believe that in helping persons to be themselves, we are measuring up to the highest conception of human service. We who are counselors of persons stand by the side of those who are attempting to find their way through a maze of conflicting issues and problems. We attempt to help them release and direct their energy.
We serve as resource assistants to them as they enter upon fruitful and appropriate objectives. Our aim is to stimulate them to become more mature and independent persons. I believe that in going with them the second mile, we too are more likely to find our way.
I believe it is an obligation for one to identify himself with one or more organizations in the community which symbolize the higher ideals of society and which contribute to the building of character. Efforts thus invested I find rewarding and exhilarating. I have toleration and respect for all those religious creeds which recognize the right of every person to worship God in his own manner.
In my devotions, I avoid the use of those prayers which ask God to do for me those things which, by using my God-given talents, I am able to do for myself and for those who depend on me. I believe that my first obligation is to live the life I know here as richly as my talents and energies permit.
That was Dr. Joseph V. Hannah, Professor of Psychology at New York University.