Give Part of Yourself Away

Taylor, Harold


  • Harold Taylor expresses his beliefe in the essential goodness of people and their natures and describes his philosophy that that, quality of life and faith in the future is a consequence of developing this goodness to live in harmony with other people.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Now we hear the considered convictions of one of the most prominent and the most provocative educators in the country, Dr. Harold Taylor who, at 36, is president of Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.
We are living in one of those periods in human history, which is marked by revolutionary changes in all of man’s ideas and values. It is a time when every one of us must look within himself to find what ideas, what beliefs, and what ideals each of us will live by. And unless we find these ideals, and unless we stand by them firmly, we have no power to overcome the crisis in which we in our
world find ourselves.
I believe in people, in sheer, unadulterated humanity. I believe in listening to what people have to say, in helping them to achieve the things which they want and the things which they need. Naturally, there are people who behave like beasts, who kill, who cheat, who lie, and who destroy. But without a belief in man and a faith in his possibilities for the future, there can be no hope for the future, but only bitterness that the past is gone.
I believe we must, each of us, make a philosophy by which we can live. There are people who make a philosophy out of believing in nothing. They say there is no truth, that goodness is simply cleverness
in disguising your own selfishness. They say that life is simply the short gap in between an unpleasant birth and an inevitable death. There are others who say that man is born into evil and sinfulness and that life is a process of purification through suffering and that death is the reward for having suffered. There are others who say that man is a kind of machine, which operates according to certain laws, and that if you can learn the laws and seize the power to manipulate the machine, you can make man behave automatically to serve whatever ends you have in mind.
I believe these philosophies are false. The most important thing in life is the way it is lived, and there is no such thing as an abstract happiness, an abstract goodness or morality, or an abstract
anything, except in terms of the person who believes and who acts. There is only the single human being who lives and who, through every moment of his personal living experience, is being happy or unhappy, noble or base, wise or unwise, or is simply existing.
The question is: How can these individual moments of human experience be filled with the richness of a philosophy, which can sustain the individual in his own life? Unless we give part of ourselves away, unless we can live with other people and understand them and help them, we are missing the most essential part of our own human lives. The fact that the native endowment of the young mind is one of liberalism and confidence in the powers of man for good is the basis of my philosophy. And if only man
can be given a free chance to use his powers, this philosophy will result in a boundless flow of vital energy and a willingness to try new things, combined with a faith in the future.
There are as many roads to the attainment of wisdom and goodness as there are people who undertake to walk them. There are as many solid truths on which we can stand, as there are people who can search them out and who will stand on them. There are as many ideas and ideals as there are men of goodwill who will hold them in their minds and act them in their lives.
Those were the beliefs of an alert and reflective man, President Harold Taylor of Sarah Lawrence College.