This I Believe
view transcript only
And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. For almost half a century Doctor Gant Gaither has practiced surgery in his native town of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. To the thousands in Western Tennessee and Kentucky who know him he is not only a fine surgeon but also a very great man. He won this reputation by never losing an opportunity to help a fellow human being. Now Doctor Gant Gaither shares with us the beliefs behind his outstanding record of service.
For forty-five years I have been an active surgeon in Western Kentucky. Out of that life, daily taking into my hands for surgical care the lives of many people of all ages and stations, I have accumulated a store of contacts with mankind. It is from this I derive my beliefs: that the motto, noblesse oblige, given me at graduation from high school, is paramount in service of man, to man and his Creator. I believe that those of us favored by nature with God’s gifts of skill, supplemented by education and experience, by learning and wisdom, have a great privilege to administer these gifts for all mankind assiduously; rich or poor, black or white, starched collar or overalls, to each alike.
I inherited from a wonderful father the common touch. I love people, especially those whom we often call the “underdog,” “little people,” those whom life has hard-bitten. I early believed that I must not willingly hurt anyone’s feelings—though not to be mealy mouthed—if the issue were between right or wrong; that I should not be exalted by success nor downcast by failure; that I should be kindly in my thoughts about people and have an understanding of human weakness that would keep me from ever being harshly critical. These and many more like them became my early beliefs. They have conditioned my personal and professional life ever since.
Thus I came to believe I should, by no act of mine today, put forth any less than the best I have within me to give. I have striven, therefore, to foster this belief by study, thought, and action. In short, I believe the echoes of my past thinking, and doing, project themselves upon the sounding board of my present moment, creating visions for my life of tomorrow. This interaction of echo and vision determines what I am and do today. But this interaction must be practical for the moment, be it 1917, at the beginning of World War I when volunteer surgeons were needed in the Army Medical Corp; or again, practical for 1949, working with alcoholics and morphine addicts in each home community, its great problem of then and now.
These have been some of the active challenges to my belief, above and beyond my surgery—which in itself is a jealous and bewitching mistress.
The expression “clear thinking” is important from my point of view, not allowing myself to be swept aside by the vagaries and popular foibles of the moment—that is, not too far. I have not been infallible and have had to back up at times to get myself once more on the right thinking track. It has made for me a life that I have enjoyed, filled with a terrific amount of hard work, not too many holidays, many failures and disappointments; much to rejoice over.
Best of all, at 69 I still have my visions and can go forward into my 70s with my beliefs, dented at times, but still valid.
That was Doctor Gant Gaither of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. During World War Two, finding that he was too old to enlist, he gave free surgical care to the families of servicemen as his unique contribution.