This I Believe

Jackson, E. W.


  • E.W. Jackson describes his belief in the pursuit of unattainable perfection, the importance of sacrifice, and the responsibility that comes with faith.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. E.W. Jackson of Austin, Texas, is a man of great perseverance. He was reared on a farm by Texas pioneer parents. He wanted to become a lawyer, and to make his way he taught school, worked as a streetcar motorman and managed a bookstore. Today he is the president of the Steck Company, a publishing firm. In 1933, he completed his legal studies and was admitted to the Texas Bar. Now he is the chairman of a commission to redraft the city charter of Austin, Texas. Here now the creed of Mr. E.W. Jackson.
I believe the most satisfying pursuit in life is in seeking perfection, trying to be like God as I conceive Him. My concepts of perfection grow. As I reach what once seemed distant goals, new and more fascinating ones come into view. So I shall never attain perfection and my satisfactions in seeking it will never end. Though the pursuit is unending, I can measure the distance I have come, but I cannot conceive the end: perfection. If I could, I should arrive and my satisfactions would be ended, since they lie in pursuit.
I believe God’s laws operate in all realms of life. So in home, shop, store, school, or on the highway, I can pursue perfection just as really as when I worship formally.
That is not to say that worship may be neglected. I believe that the earnestness of my search for perfection during my mortal life will have much to do with my immortal satisfactions.
I believe in prayer, not because I think I will be handed, as a gift, the things I might ask for. I think of prayer as a means of tuning in on the Supreme Intelligence. Effective prayer seeks only to place the supplicant in harmony with the divine. Gaining this harmony may bring spiritual and moral powers that under other conditions would seem miraculous. And speaking of miracles, I think they are regarded as miracles only to the extent that we do not understand God’s laws. I think He does not violate His laws.
I believe that no worthwhile gain is made without sacrifice. Social gains usually cost dearly. Even so small a thing as a needed traffic light is usually not installed until someone has lost his life at the spot. I believe I should be willing to make personal sacrifices to improve my country. Such sacrifices may range from taking time to vote, to furnishing political leadership in a cause that will result in loss to myself, or even to giving my life. I believe willingness to sacrifice for unborn generations is evidence of the Divine Imprint on man.
Fear is the most blighting emotion that can affect my life. The more fully I trust the kindness and complete goodness of God, the less I fear.
When there is no fear, it is easy to be kind and generous to neighbor and stranger alike. This complete trust does not lead to a fatalistic attitude. I have been given tools with which to work: hands, mind, body. So it is not for me to say, “What is to be will be, and since God is good, all things will end well.” Rather, I should say, “God is my Father. He has work to do, and I am His partner so I must help. With Him and His children working together, the ultimate will be good.” And finally, I must see the greatest opportunities to carry out my part of this partnership in my own family, the boy next door, in my own town and community. I must not let my concept of a partnership with God give me delusions of grandeur that will make me starry-eyed and ineffective.
These are my beliefs. I have difficulty living up to them, but they furnish me a satisfactory philosophy of life. Being reared in a fundamentalist religious home, I went through some groping periods in my early twenties that, measured by the beliefs of my parents, pointed to atheism. But that groping, plus years of living, has given me these beliefs.
That was Mr. E. W. Jackson, an attorney and president of a publishing firm in Austin, Texas.