This I Believe
Taylor, Henry P.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Henry P. Taylor is president of the vegetable canning firm Taylor and Caldwell of Walkerton, Virginia. He has been a director of the National Canner’s Association, the Virginia Manufacturer’s Association and the State Chamber of Commerce. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, he became a farmer, a soldier and then a canner. Here now the beliefs of Henry P. Taylor.
I never knew a real farmer or canner who wasn’t kind of humble and reverent. Maybe it’s because we live so close to the raw forces of nature, which are wholly beyond human control. Drought, frost and flood can destroy in almost an instant what it took months or years to create. To struggle with them is like wrestling with a troubled sea. If you have tried swimming when the waves are breaking five and six feet high, you know what I mean. You feel so helpless.
But this has made me look back on the confusion in this world of ours, and see that it rests on the framework of the most marvelous laws.
So far as we are able to discover, these laws are not only absolutely immutable, but they are also absolutely harmonious, working ceaselessly, without the slightest conflict. They are physical laws inherent in our physical universe, biological laws inherent in living creatures, and social laws inherent in man and human society. All things obey these laws. Where there is no life, obedience is simple and inevitable. Life apparently has a choice. But if it chooses not to obey the laws of its being, the penalty is death, the loss of the power to choose.
Now reality consists in a large part of these laws. Most people think of reality as something physical, that you can touch and weigh and measure.
But reality can also be an intangible thing, like the Law of Gravitation, or the Laws of Biological Inheritance, or the principles of social justice. In fact, these intangible realities are the most important of all. As St. Paul puts it, “For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.”
The most important reality for most of us is our living together with other men. I believe that my own well-being depends so intimately on the well-being of my fellow man, that I dare not seek my personal advantage at the expense of the common good, nor ask for myself any right or privilege I would deny to another.
I also believe in the fullest measure of personal freedom, within these limits, subject only to the restriction that freedom must carry with it responsibility, and rights must entail obligations. And that the failure of the individual or the group to assume the responsibility inseparable from freedom can result only in an abridgment of this freedom. I believe that this is a statement of a natural law, inherent in human society, in much the same way as the law of gravitation is a natural law inherent in our physical universe. Failure to observe it is responsible for social and economic chaos, just as the failure of the law of gravitation would result in physical chaos.
I also believe that these intangible realities are the laws of god, and that they are a ladder of truth.
From the lowest rungs of physical laws, to the topmost rungs of adoration and worship, up which the spirit of love, as revealed in Christ, can lead us to the glory and majesty of almighty God.
Those were the beliefs of Henry P. Taylor, a farmer and canner from Walkerton, Virginia.