This I Believe

Borton, Elon G.


  • Elon Borton envies his fathers unwavering faith in God and explains his own evolving faith in God; that He has a plan and a purpose for everyone.
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. As Stevenson said, “The world is full of a number of things, but even kings, including those of industry, can be unhappy.” Elon G. Borton, president and general manager of the Advertizing Federation of America, has mastered the knack of sorting out the things in life of real importance, as he now proves.
My father, who died 17 years ago at the age of 84, had a religious faith, which I envied him, but which I could not accept in my younger days. He believed implicitly in God as a personal God,
intimately and directly concerned with, and watching over him as an individual. I cannot yet go all the way with him, even though I still envy him his unquestioning faith and assurance. But more and more with the years, I’m convinced that a great, all-knowing, and loving force established this universe and rules it.
In my farm childhood and in my present gardening hobby, I know that one seed unfailingly produces a gorgeous, tall flower; another, seemingly very much like it, grows into a shy, little plant; and still another brings forth a towering tree. A 2-year-old neighbor boy is the image of his grandfather in features and in characteristics, while his sister is a miniature of her mother. The planets and the sea
follow predictable courses, and the seasons march in ordered progress.
Like the friends of Job in the Bible, I have again and again wondered over the seeming success of mean and wicked men, and the apparent failure of good men. But always, as I watched and probed, I found that ultimately the balance evened in some way; so also with nations, as witness Mussolini and Hitler, and as Stalin will finally prove.
Grief and misfortune have hit me and my friends and at the time, these misfortunes seemed cruel and unfair. In the end, they usually helped develop sympathy and love and character in those afflicted. They worked out to longtime good. These things could not just happen. They are the product of a plan
conceived and administered by some force far wiser and greater and kinder than mere man.
My work as an association executive brings me into contact with thousands of men and women from all parts of the nation and from all walks of life. I served at the front in World War I, where rough conditions tore away pretense and revealed the real in men. I have been a salesman and a teacher. Out of those contacts has come a great respect for, and confidence in, people.
Covered up as it often is with seeming meanness and sometimes cruelty, down inside most men and women is an essential goodness, which governs their life in crises. Black or White or Yellow, Buddhist, Christian or Jew—it makes no difference. The human race strives ever upward toward the ideal: Casper
Milquetoast rises to real courage at war; the criminal always loves someone; the lowly struggle for self-respect and achievement; and peoples the world around strive for freedom. Each of us has an inner vision towards which he climbs.
As a people grumbling about too many fund drives, we yet give generously to a host of public service causes. Let disaster strike a community here or abroad, and our whole nation responds instantly. We see graft and corruption in high and low places, we complain that our generation is growing soft, we witness racial and religious intolerance; but with it all, the world grows steadily better. Behind the surface, we respond to the fine in life.
This then, I believe: there is a loving, just God who established this universe, set up the laws which govern it, and still watches over it. There is essential goodness in my fellow men, which I can trust and rely on. There is, within me, a capacity for understanding and growth by which I can live up to this godhood and manhood.
That was Elon G. Borton, whose business is selling things, but whose life is sparked with values that money cannot buy.