Dictators Cannot Kill It

Stassen, Harold Edward


  • Harold Stassen describes Albert Schweitzer's life and his philosophy of "reverance for life," and from this explains why people yearn for freedom and dictatorships can never stop this yearning.
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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. At 44, Harold E. Stassen has emerged as one of America’s younger statesmen. He gives his personal convictions now, not only as president of the University of Pennsylvania, but as a man with a lively interest in the politics and problems of our country and the world.
As I walked with Dr. Albert Schweitzer through his remarkable hospital, deep in the African jungle at Lambarene and French Equatorial Africa, and watched his expressive, kindly face as he paused and talked with an elderly native patient, and again as he looked in on a tiny newborn native baby, the
central thought of his philosophic writings came again and again to my mind. “Reverence for life,” is the phrase which this great man, now in his 76th year of life and in his 36th year in the African jungle, has used to tell the world of his philosophy of life. It is a phrase which occurred to him years ago as he was traveling up the Ogooue River in a dugout canoe, en route to minister to an ill family in the jungle. He speaks and writes of all life as having the “will to live,” and of each one living in the midst of others with a “will to live.”
From this beginning, he followed with his view that reverence for life is the basis for civilization. It is the ethics for a desirable way of life. Dr. Schweitzer has read and written about most of the
philosophers of all history, from Socrates and Aristotle, to Gandhi and Marx. He’s also an authority on the music of Bach and has written a number of volumes of interpretation of Bach’s Chorales. He played a brief Bach concert for me on his small organ before 7:00 in the morning.
I believe he has come closer to interpreting the teachings of Christ into a guiding philosophy of civilization than anyone has ever done. Perhaps the combination of his medical practice in the jungle and his musical ability have together had a part in shaping his understanding of his philosophy. Thus, in this modern Atomic Age, with all of its uncertainties and dangers and confusions, I believe that faith in God and in the value and worth of a human being is the solid rock upon which to build a happy
and well-spent life.
I hold that every man has within him a regard for the well-being and the dignity of his fellow man. At times, this might be pretty well covered up; at times it might be encased in a hard shell, built up by bitter experiences or by evil objectives. And I believe that it is always there deep down inside. This is the “reverence for life,” which Albert Schweitzer writes from Africa. It is a sentiment inborn in man, which even the most ruthless dictators cannot completely wipe out.
Thus I believe that man was meant to be free. Throughout history, most of mankind has been ruled and dominated by other men. There have been many cruel and oppressive governments. Even at this time,
halfway through the twentieth century, one-third of the peoples of the world are living under dictatorships. But history also shows that even when people have been dominated for centuries, they continue to have an intense personal desire to be free. I believe this, too, is an inborn part of man, himself.
Above all, I believe there is a God; there is a power beyond all of mankind and all of this Earth. This faith and this belief is the foundation for America. It is the foundation for a worthwhile life. This I believe.
You have heard Harold E. Stassen, educator, politician, lawyer—one of the United States’ most active citizens.