This I Believe

Thayer, Frederick


  • Frederick Thayer considers the many different philosophies and belief systems in the world and arrives at the conclusion that people would be better off focusing on their present life and conduct rather than on their afterlife.
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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. People are the best investment: that’s what investment banker Frederick M. Thayer believes. Proof of this is found in his activities as a member of the Hoover Food Administration’s Baltic mission and as an active and useful member of his community of Newton Square, Pennsylvania.
Some of my grandparents were Quakers, some Episcopalians; some were intensely religious and regular churchgoers, while others were not. My father was the finest example of a real Christian, but although he practiced the teachings of Christ in everyday living he never went to church except on Easter Sunday. When I was 15, my father was lost in the sinking of the Titanic. Desperate in her sorrow, my mother became convinced she might contact him in the life beyond through spiritualism, and at her request I attended some séance, with mediums who claimed to have the gift of transmitting messages between the living and the dead.
In school and college, we had compulsory chapel every morning and church on Sunday. In those days of World War I, my classmates had many heated discussions on religion. There was the usual percentage of atheists and agnostics. One of these was a splendid young fellow, now an outstanding citizen, who believed there was no God nor life after death and yet saw no reason why this should change his own mode of life and behavior one iota. He always practiced the Golden Rule, adhered to the Ten Commandments, and in general set a fine example in his everyday relationships with others. Thus, in my youth I had occasion to observe quite a wide variety of beliefs and disbeliefs.
I have also done some reading on various religious and tribal practices around the world, and in some tribes the way of life among so-called savages seem to me much more Christian-like than the conduct and daily acts in some of our own communities, both past and present.
Many minds are disturbed and troubled with three great questions: 1) Is there any God? 2) Is there a life after death? 3) What must be done about church and religion in order to reach heaven and avoid hell? Anyone who has studied astronomy and observed the extraordinary movements of the stars and planets or who has paid any attention whatever to the marvels of nature, such as plant life, the migrations of birds, the amazingly intricate life of bees, or an ant colony, must surely be convinced that the universe was created by some Divine Power
who is still guiding our destinies.
However, it is unfortunate that people allow their minds to be worried by so much emphasis on the question of life after death. I don’t believe anyone can positively guarantee it with factual proof; and yet, surely no one can deny its possibility. Instead of devoting so much thinking and speculating on the future, it would be much better to focus our attention on living the proper kind of life right here and now amongst our own families, friends, and neighbors, both here and abroad.
Heaven or hell can be experienced without leaving the vicinity of Philadelphia.
Whether we know positively that we go on to eternity, or that the soul and spirit ends with death, it should make no difference in our everyday behavior and mode of living. In either case, we and all peoples of the world will be much better off in this life, and in the future if there is one, if we put more emphasis and concentration right here and now in conducting ourselves in accordance with the precepts set forth by the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, and the general teachings of Christ.
You have heard Frederick M. Thayer, a graduate of Haverford School and Yale University, and an earnest citizen.