This I Believe
Crandon, Laura Bishop
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Laura Bishop Crandon taught for thirty-two years at Columbia University's Horace Mann School, where she started a course in human relations. She gets her interest in human beings, as well as her fighting, non-conformist blood from an ancestor, Amos Dunster. The first president of Harvard, he was fired for not being able to subscribe to a belief in pre-destination, fore-ordination, and infant damnation. Now listen to some of things his descendent Laura Crandon does believe.
I am very fond of the story of a small boy, so bursting with energy and enterprise that it takes the combined efforts of his parents and teachers to keep him busy. One day, his father tore a large, colored map of the world out of a magazine and
cut it into small pieces. “Here,” he told his son, “see if you can put these together again.” In a disturbingly short time, the boy returned with the puzzle solved. “How did you manage to do it so quickly?” the dumbfounded father asked. “’Twas easy,” the boy replied. “There was a picture of a man on the other side. As soon as I had the man put together correctly, the world came out alright.”
In the same way, I believe the emphasis in our thinking in education should be shifted from the great mystery of the universe to man and what he, as a source of power, can do to solve the world’s problems. Through the ages, we catch glimpses of human grandeur in man’s relation with his fellow man. These glimpses lead me to believe that there are untapped potentialities in all of us which can be a powerful source for solving the world’s human problems.
I believe creation is a process, not an event. But as a person, I must feel myself a contributing, as well as the receiving, part of this process. I must feel myself a coworker with sources greater than myself, a co-creator in a human society which is by no means finished, and for which I am, in part, responsible. It is an obligation, as well as an opportunity, I feel, to pay back, in part, by my own efforts and my special gifts, the debt I owe to countless, unknown human beings, people whose thought and laborer, toil and suffering, have gone to make up, in part, the life I am now enjoying.
I believe that man’s fate lies in his own hands, that the evolution into higher forms of excellence in human relations is within man’s own power to direct. I contemplate the evolution of the infinite variety of beauty in our physical world. Then I consider
what an opportunity I have, right now, of contributing to the evolution of a lovely and moral world of man’s making, the world of human relations where men live and work together.
I believe profoundly in the search for ways to build a better society in which all human beings shall share in the good things of life. Such a search means identifying myself with humanity—past, present, and future. It means making a contract with society and imposes an obligation and responsibility on me to fulfill that contract. Such a belief gives spiritual value to my daily choices.
Since I, as a live citizen, help create the rules I choose to live by and make decisions which affect others, I believe I must
make it my deep, personal concern to see that these voluntary decisions of mine are leading, in their small way, in the direction of a better human society. This involves acquiring an inclusive point of view, whose focus is outside myself. Then the “Better World Society,” which I wish to help build, will, like the little boy’s picture puzzle, come out alright because I and my fellow humans will have contributed our own bits of excellence to the beauty of the whole.
There the creed of Laura Bishop Crandon of Boston, Massachusetts, a retired school teacher who is still an active, irrepressible citizen.