This I Believe

Liggett, Carr

  • Carr Liggett describes his belief that Jesus' Gospel is the way to happiness, and his uncertainities regarding the faith of his parents, as well as his beliefs in the importance of freedom, in accepting life and the world as we find it, and in tolerating and understanding others.
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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. After his return from France at the end of the First World War, Carr Liggett was forced by circumstances to abandon a career in teaching. He went into advertising, and in spite of setbacks along the way, has his own agency with a staff of 16 people. This is Carr Liggett's creed.
I was brought up by devout parents and until my senior year in college, I tried sincerely to experience the faith that made them happy. Regretfully, I came then to the conclusion that for me, there was no ready-made answer of the
question of why I was on earth, and what I should believe and do to make my life worth the living. That was the first time I had ever felt alone in the universe. I was both frightened and thrilled. But I had no impulse to change the conduct of my life. The ethics my parents had taught me made sense to me.
I believed, as I believe now, that Jesus’ gospel of love is the answer to the problem of happiness—for all mankind eventually, and for any man now. It seemed to me also that Jesus’ faith in the dignity of each human being was the turning point in the history of man’s long struggle for freedom, the only state in which he can make his dreams of abundant living and great achievement come true.
Out of the emotional and mental turmoil I experienced then, I began to understand and accept the world and mankind, but as quite different from what my parents and many other worthy people wanted to believe they are. To me, at any rate, it seemed presently that the “why” of human life was an academic question quite unrelated to the problem of what I should do to make my life good. What is called “moral purpose” in the universe appeared to me to have sprung from man’s egotism—the pride in which we rate ourselves is little lower than the angels—that inspires our refusal to be humble, finite creatures in an unimaginably stupendous universe, as I felt God intended us to be.
So from this acceptance of life, I fashioned a philosophy to live by. It gave me an exciting and rewarding eagerness to
know, understand, and love the other human beings who share with me this lonely brief adventure of living. As I learned, I became more tolerant of men—though not of their meanness and cruelty—and I became prouder of this species of intelligent animal of which I am one. But only a few thousand years out of the jungle, mankind is already capable of the most selfless courage, nobility, kindliness, and will to be free.
I became passionately devoted to freedom—mental and physical—for myself and for all men of goodwill. I accepted the world as I saw it—with meekness, but without fear of its logical but impersonal hazard to all life. I inherited the earth in all its beauty and hardship, love and sorrow, work and happiness. Against scriptural advice, I fell in love with it. So I have
found life in this world satisfyingly rich in enjoyment of love, home, and friendship, music, art, and books, devotion to my country, a lively concern for my human brothers everywhere, and the challenge of providing for my family.
I believe that mankind will someday learn to accept life much as I have and give up trying to escape from it in fairy tales or in immoderate pleasures or ambitions. I’ve had a happy life, these fifty-eight years. And not even the death of two sons—one at two-and a-half years, and one at fifteen—has brought my wife or me any bitterness. Bitterness needs an object. Why should man be bitter about the law of gravity.
That was Carr Liggett, a Cleveland advertising man, with a strong, independent belief. His interests, away from the office, include composing piano music and writing light satiric verse.