This I Believe

Sharples, Laurence P. (Laurence Price)


  • Laurence Sharples describes the essential beliefs he tries to live by; keep active and busy, educate his heart and have empathy, remain honest, and create something positive to leave behind.
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And now, This I Believe, the living philosophies of thoughtful men and women, presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Whatever else our reputation is, Americans have come to be known the world over for resourcefulness. We make things tick. Some people call is savvy or know-how. A native of Westchester, Pennsylvania, Laurence P. Sharples is an engineer, an inventor, and one of the leading amateur aviators of the United States. He founded and heads the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He holds a dozen-odd patents on such things as centrifuges and airplane fuel systems. He has
discovered, though, that there is something more to life than blueprints and the laws of aerodynamics. When we asked Laurence Sharples for his philosophy, he posed some searching questions.
I asked myself, What beliefs must I live up to, or admit failure when the bedtime of death comes along? As number one, I would say keep continually doing something useful. This refers particularly to spare time, when it is so much easier to read a magazine or see television or just sit and talk. It seems to me that life keeps a ledger on one and puts all the wasted hours on the debit sheet, and all the useful accomplishments on the credit sheet. So item one of my creed is to keep continually doing something useful.
Number two concerns the education of the heart. As a baby, my heart, of course, was nothing but a pump. As a kid, my parents probably did their best to teach my heart some generosity, some love, and some kindness. But I realize all too well, it is far from a well-educated organ—although my children are doing a lot for it along that line. I deeply envy friends who have such beautifully educated hearts that almost hourly they do some definite thing—usually small, but sometimes big—that is helpful to another person. They seem to churn out these actions as naturally and as effortlessly as I would tip my hat.
At a dinner party recently, a certain man—a friend of all present—was being gossiped about in an
uncomplimentary vein. Our host quietly stated to our group that the man happened to be a friend of his and any such gossip concerning his friends must not take place at his table. It was nicely done, and we all came away better persons. So my item number two is educate your heart and keep it working for others.
My third This I Believe is to play everything strictly on the up and up. When the train conductor doesn’t notice you, there’s a strong tendency to bury your face in your newspaper and kid yourself into thinking that cheating the railroad out of a fare it has earned is more honest than shoplifting. Similar opportunities, of course, appear daily in business and in family life.
I firmly believe that we get paid off right here on Earth for the good and evil we do. It has been my experience that the payoff is usually prompt, and what you gain by an overshoot act, you find, eventually turns into a loss in some unexpected way. And a loss of stature, or credit with acquaintances, is one of the worst losses one can sustain. I believe that I will be better off right here on Earth if I refuse to cut corners—get out of police fines, and so forth. So my number three This I Believe is to play everything on the up and up, both in business and at home.
It would be less than frank for me to say that virtues of the soul, alone, would permit me to die satisfied. Creating something that will live after one also seems extremely important—for instance, a
book, an athletic record, a building, an invention, some well-taught students, or some well-trained children. So perhaps we should add a fourth This I Believe, namely create something positive that will live after us.
You have heard the creed of an engineer, Laurence P. Sharples, tank core veteran of World War I and an amateur pilot, but, we submit, a mature professional in the business of living.