This I Believe

Latvala, Waino K.

  • Waino K. Latvala, a Finnish-American, describes his experiences as an information officer fighting for Finland during the Finnish War, and how he believes that fear is a catalyst to action.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Waino K. Latvala is a Finn, and an American. Born in the United States, he volunteered in three of Finland's wars against the Soviet Union and lost his American citizenship. Now he has become American again by naturalization. In two of Finland's wars, he was Chief of Psychological Warfare, War Economy Division. And he wears scars of twenty-three war wounds. Here is his statement of faith.
As an information officer in the Finnish War, my job was to harness the powers of the spoken and written word to the needs of liberty and peril. On one occasion, my mission was to arrange a direct
line to New York from an actual battle for CBS correspondent Warren Irvin, and to guide him to the microphone in the dugout to enable him to do his job with the spoken word. When I received my orders, much time had been lost and it seemed impossible to do it within a few hours, since Irvin had to talk exactly at 10 on New Year's Eve to dovetail his talk with a larger program on the air in America. I prayed for divine help.
Then fear propelled me into action. It was a difficult task--the cannons roaring around us, the pitch-black night full of unknown perils. But with the authority I had and the help I could command, somehow we did it. The roar of the guns furnished excellent theme music when Irvin brought the actual sound,
the terrible reality of our fight for liberty, to millions of American listeners. On that job I discovered that fear was the catalyst that eliminated the coward in me.
In the jungles of the past, man scared the dangerous beasts away with bonfires. The ignorant child who wandered off into the night without fear was eaten up by the beasts. But the child who feared stayed at the bonfire and survived. In growing up, he cleared the forest. He was my forefather or yours. Fear was his friend. Spinoza wrote, thus: "He who is led by fear and does good in order to escape evil is not led by reason. There can be no hope without fear, and no fear without hope. Further, in so far as we hope for or fear anything, we regard it with love or hatred." I believe fear is the catalyst which
synthesizes my knowledge, my hope for what I love, and often carries me to instant action. It is like the catalyst chlorophyll, which instantly synthesizes the flowing energies from sun, water, and air into food for beast and man. To me, fear is like light which I cannot experience. I can only see the lighted thing.
I also believe that I have a tiny but difficult mission in God's mysterious plan for man on Earth. In one frame I live in two worlds: one is the physical, of scientific truth and reason; the other is the spiritual, of religious faith. Both worlds have their own jungles of unknowns, of darkness and ignorance. My goal is peace of mind. In both worlds, I believe I deal with only one energy, God's
energy, but in exceedingly many forms, in eternal movement. The greatest energy of Earth is hidden in the human mind. It can destroy us if ignorance and fear prevail without God's guidance. But with God's energies of wisdom, justice, and love, with fear as a friend and as a catalyst, we'll produce, someday, liberty for all mankind. This I believe: when God is my guide, fear is my friend.
That was Waino K. Latvala, veteran of three Finnish wars, now engaged in advertising and insurance in California.