About Secrets and Falling Tiles

Binder, Carroll


  • Carroll Binder relates his personal tragedies and the principles he relies on to avoid cynicism and maintain the enjoyment of life through adversity.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. The word "integrity" is sometimes loosely used. But it fits no man's character more snugly than that of my esteemed friend and colleague Carroll Binder, now editorial editor of the Minneapolis Tribune. Listen to the warm, human beliefs of this internationally known journalist.
"We are all at the mercy of a falling tile," Julius Caesar reminds us in Thornton Wilder's Ides of March. None of us knows at what hour something we may love may suffer some terrible blow by a force we can neither anticipate nor control.
Fifty-five years of living, much of the time in trouble centers of a highly troubled era, have not
taught me how to avoid being hit by falling tiles. I have sustained some very severe blows. My mother died when I was three years old. My first-born son, a gifted and idealistic youth, was killed in the war. While I was still cherishing the hope that he might be alive, circumstances beyond my control made it impossible for me to continue work into which I had poured my heart's blood for twenty years.
I speak of such things here in the hope of helping others to believe with me that there are resources within one's grasp which enable one to sustain such blows without being crushed or embittered by them.
I believe the best hope of standing up to falling tiles is through developing a sustaining philosophy and state of mind all through life. I have seen all sorts of people sustain all sorts of blows in all
sorts of circumstances, so I believe anyone can find a faith that will serve his needs if he persists in the quest.
One of the best ways I know of fortifying oneself to withstand the vicissitudes of this insecure and unpredictable era is to school oneself to require relatively little in the way of material possessions, physical satisfactions, or the praise of others. The less one requires of such things the better situated one is to stand up to changes of fortune.
Friends of all ages have contributed enormously to my happiness and helped me greatly in times of need. I learned one of the great secrets of friendship early in life--to regard each person with whom one
associates as an end in himself, not a means to one's own ends. That entails trying to help those with whom one comes in contact to find fulfillment in their own way while seeking one's own fulfillment in one's own way.
Another ethical principle which has stood me in good stead is: Know thyself! I try to acquaint myself realistically with my possibilities and limitations. I try to suit my aspirations to goals within my probable capacity to attain. I may have missed some undiscovered possibilities for growth, but I have spared myself much pain by not shooting for stars it clearly was not given me to attain.
I have seen much inhumanity, cheating, corruption, sordidness, and selfishness but I have not become cynical. I have seen too much that is decent, kind, and noble in men to lose faith in the possibility
for a far finer existence than yet has been achieved. I believe the quest for a better life is the most satisfying pursuit of men and nations.
I love life, but I am not worried about death. I do not feel that I have lost my son and a host of others dear to me by death. I believe with William Penn that "they that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still." Death, I believe, teaches us the things of deathlessness.
That was Carroll Binder, editor, traveler, commentator, who knows the world and its problems,
perhaps, as well as any living American and who has learned that supreme lesson: the importance of knowing one's self.