This I Believe

O'Leary, Thomas V.


  • Thomas O Leary describes stories of human kindness, and his belief that working in newspapers is a way to bring the truth to light.
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And now, This I Believe, the living philosophies of thoughtful men and women, presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Thomas V. O'Leary is the news editor of the Scranton Times in Pennsylvania. He started with the Gannett newspapers in his hometown of Elmira, New York. His professional background includes being a sports editor, reporter, columnist, and copy editor. Here now is Mr. O'Leary.
As a newspaperman for many years, I have seen much of life, the good and the bad. But curiously enough, the bright, not the dark, deeds have made the most lasting impressions on me. Can I ever forget the clubfooted boy with the speech defect who
pedaled papers, rain or shine, until he had saved enough money to buy a home for his mother; or the ragged youngster who laid a bunch of dandelions on the coffin of a stranger who had bought him a pair of mittens one wintry day; and the scrubwoman who put three children through college? No.
Such memories never fade because they are woven of love, humility, faith, and usefulness, qualities without which life would be barren and meaningless. I have come to discern these virtues in all of our truly great. Paradoxically, these men are apart from all others because they are so accessible to all. Because their work is inspired by faith and because they desire to serve, they have truly learned that to give is to receive.
I believe that we can and will make our world a better place in which to live. I believe, too, that each of us, even the lowliest, can contribute to this advance. My daily work affords me much satisfaction because it is an unceasing search for the truth, a search dedicated to the public interest, with the self and its own likes and dislikes subordinated to the facts, pleasing or unpleasing, which develop. In this constant quest, I have come to know that truth is vital to freedom and must be found and affirmed at all costs, and that in every man there is an unquenchable thirst for justice.
Sometimes our pages may seem cluttered with accounts of the latest antics of notorious public clowns, the crimes of public enemies, and the shortcomings of public servants. But throughout our newspapers can be discerned that strong seam of truth, which
helps us to become better Americans and better world citizens. Truth, frequently, is elusive. It is so much about me that I often lack the proper perspective to see it in its real light. Like a mountain better viewed at a distance, it may require the passage of time before coming into focus. But when it does appear, it points the way to the right course, and it is gratifying to play even a minor role in finding it.
Of course, it is easy to become cynical. Indeed, to some it is fashionable to scoff at virtue, and therein lies the greatest threat to our civilization: the danger of becoming so materialistic that faith and love are obliterated. The evolution of our
society has been a long and painful process, differing from a revolution only in its slower pace. But through it all can be seen the handiwork of God, enabling man to learn eternal truths, to make his life more fruitful, and to prepare him for a better one. To pursue and capture truth is an elevating experience, and it often brings to mind this beautiful Indian apologue: “A man once said to a lump of clay, ‘What art thou?’ The reply was, ‘I am but a lump of clay, but I was placed beside a rose and I caught its fragrance.’"
That was Thomas V. O'Leary, whose optimistic outlook is founded upon ideals tested against the background of a newspaperman's experiences.