This I Believe

Kingman, Ruth W.

  • Ruth Kingman describes the religious beliefs of her ancestors, and describes her own belief in college students, who provide her hope for the future.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Ruth W. Kingman is probably one of the busiest grandmothers in her native California. She trained as a musician at the Damrosch Institute, directed the Oratorio Society in Tientsin, China and was soloist at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York. As wife of Harry Kingman, YMCA secretary at the University of California, she has welcomed thousands of students to their home over the years and loves cooking for them. She is president of the Council of Church Women and of the League of Women Voters in Berkeley and on the board of a number of civic organizations, including the YWCA, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
During the war she was executive director of the Committee on American Principles and Fair Play for Japanese Americans. Here are the personal beliefs of Mrs Ruth W. Kingman.
When my grandfather came to California as a young veteran of the Civil War, he came as a clergyman to save the immortal souls of men who had come ahead of him in search of gold. Twenty years later, his son, my father, was riding horseback one thousand miles each month in the high, snow-covered Siskiyou Mountains, carrying Bible in one saddlebag, bear rifle in the other, and salvation in his sermons.
Faith in immortality was still the last, best promise for the devout. Good and pious people looked forward to a peaceful life after death, whose richness would be determined by the degree of earthly saintliness that could be achieved in the rowdy West.
Fifty years have elapsed, and with them two World Wars, a worldwide depression. Now we are living through a Cold War of such glacial proportions that no one knows how much of the sea of civilization is being mortally battered by its under span. What I, a descendent of religious pioneers, believed in 1954 has natural foundations in the beliefs of those before me.
That the ties between those foundations and my present beliefs are tenuous can be laid to the impact of intervening history and my reaction to it.
Fortunately for me, I married a man whose work has kept us near university students for thirty years. It is in these young people that I most deeply believe. Their courage, their wisdom, their honesty hold spiritual values unrevealed to many of our older generation. Naturally this is not true of all young people, for they too are human. But I have found that this post-War crop of young men and women in particular can show us the way if we will give them a chance.
They show us the way of wisdom as they counter the frustrations of their elders by calmly going about their chosen business of making families and building homes. They show us the way of courage as they face the age of the angry atom, honestly, fearing what it may bring but producing a singularly simple but effective antidote for that fear. They are trying within the small citadels of their homes to create and nurture human beings whose minds and hearts will be free from the prejudices and hatred which bring men to war. Their gamble is confidence that their contemporaries over all the world, when given a chance, are trying desperately to build the same way.
To share courage and wisdom and dedication of youth is to join in its rejection of prejudices, bigotry, half-truths, demagoguery, cheapness, and selfishness.
I believe it is my responsibility to keep alive the only atmosphere in which this youth can apply the force of its wisdom and courage, the atmosphere arising from understanding, confidence, and above all freedom for mind and spirit. To whatever degree I contribute to that climate, I may perhaps have some small claim to the faith of my fathers.
Those were the beliefs of Ruth W. Kingman, civic leader of Berkeley, California.