This I Believe
Lerew, Gillie A.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. The equations of life somehow seem never to be quite precise, perhaps because in them X=emotion more often than logic. But a remarkable woman named Gillie A. Lerew has totted up life’s values with the clear reason of a mathematician, which she is, and with the emotional warmth of a sensitive human being, which she is even more. She has spent most of her life teaching at Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she is now academic dean. Here is her creed.
It is not too easy to make a public confession of faith. I wish very much to be sincere, to speak not of what I think I should believe, but of a faith that is truly and deeply mine. So I ask myself what it is that moves me when, like Martin Luther, I must say and do no other. Two things, I think. A belief in the importance of the individual human being—his capacity for good, the sacredness of his personality. A belief in a higher power, hence the human individual may derive strength and enlargement. I must believe that the effort for the good life is a joined effort, and that we must learn to respect one another, to trust one another, to order our life together in frankness and sincerity.
The contemporary world baffles me and frightens me, for I find in it the integrity of human beings denied by other human beings. But I come back to my stubbornly-held faiths, and when I say I can do no other, my compunction is to realize these faiths by acting upon them.
I am conscious that all I have been saying is part of the thinking that springs from the life and teachings of Jesus. I was reared in the Christian tradition, and whatever has been altered or gained or lost, these fundamentals have grown more real. And I do believe that faith is a growing thing.
Years ago, my father—always an eager thinker and a ready sharer of thought—said to me, “Daughter, you are very lucky. You will have a chance to learn things that I have never learned, and to believe more than I believe because you will know more than I know.” Since that day I have traveled in the ways of learning, and I have been more or less conditioned by what is called scientific thought, and I have grown surer that greater knowledge breeds greater faith.
It is Einstein who said of science that it contributes to a religious spiritualization of our understanding of life. And this brings me to mention other faiths, compelling though not so fundamental:
faith in the restoring and enlarging powers of beauty, in nature, in art forms, in the dignity of ordered thought, faith in the healing that comes from simple human helpfulness, faith in compassion, faith in the superiority of the human spirit to the material things that threaten to stifle it. We are frightened now because we may lose mechanical advantages which we think make, in themselves, the good life. I have faith to believe in the survival of a good and rich life of the spirit even if these are gone.
It is impossible to deny the difficulty, the danger, the pain, the injustice, the suffering that plague our world. But a faith in the survival and triumph of the human spirit and the reality of righteousness is still ours.
After listening to her beliefs, it is not hard to understand why Miss Gillie A. Lerew of Randolph-Macon is one of the South’s most valued teachers.