The Road of Sanity and Morality
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Most men hope for peace. Few men really work for it as a job. Harold Evans is more than a successful Philadelphia lawyer: wherever there has been misery or threat of violence, as in Germany, the Balkans or Palestine, there Harold Evans has gone as a helpful citizen of the world, living the beliefs he tells of now.
Three years ago, I first met Count Bernadotte in Cairo under unusual circumstances. He had just been appointed United Nations Mediator for Palestine, and I, a few days earlier, had been named by the United Nations as Municipal Commissioner for Jerusalem, to act if and when a truce should be
established. The next half-month, I was in almost daily association with him—in Cairo, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Jerusalem, Rhodes, and in the United Nations’ plane—trying to help him in his great endeavor to establish peace in Palestine.
This association was one of the great experiences of my life. He had undertaken his difficult mission under a deep religious concern, and he kept constantly with him the Bible, which his father had given him when he left Sweden. But he did not wear his religion on his sleeve. He was gay and full of fun and humor, and took lightly—perhaps too lightly—the personal dangers of his task.
But I think the quality, which impressed me most, was his courageous humility, evidenced daily, but
perhaps most clearly in his press announcement of the truce in Cairo on June 9. In that crowded room in Shepherds Hotel, he told his audience that they might think he would be proud of the results achieved, but he was not. He gave the credit to his staff, and still more, as he said, “to the help of God Almighty,” without which he could have done nothing.
Though in origin and background they were poles apart, there was much about Bernadotte that was reminiscent of Lincoln—in courage, in humility, in religious faith, and in their tragic deaths at the hands of assassins. Each of them disliked armed guards and, when satisfied that his course was right, was un-swayed by what others thought and careless of consequences to himself.
In accepting his appointment as mediator, Bernadotte might well have used the language of Lincoln when notified of his second election as president: “With the distrust of my own ability to perform the duty under the most favorable circumstance, yet with a firm reliance on the strength of our free government and the eventual loyalty of the people to the principles upon which it is founded, and above all with an unshaken faith in the Supreme Ruler of nations, I accept this trust.”
How different would be the situation of the world today if the nations were led by this spirit instead of “The heathen heart that puts its trust / In reeking cube and iron shard/ All valiant dust that builds on dust / And guarding calls not God to Guard.” How much nearer to peace would we be if our
country, in recent years, had devoted far more of its wealth and energies to putting food into the stomachs, and clothes on the backs, of the Chinese and Iranians, and less to constructing atom bombs, jet planes, and other armaments.
Such thoughts are, today, not popular. As Lincoln said, in appraising his second inaugural address, “Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which, I think, needed to be told, and as whatever of humiliation there is in it falls most directly on myself, I think others might afford for me to tell it.”
None of us is free from blame for the world’s tragedy, but each of us in courageous humility, like Lincoln and Bernadotte, can free himself from suspicion, hatred, and aggression, and with magnanimity, generosity, patience, and goodwill, do his bit to bring the world back to the road of sanity and Christian morality. This I Believe.
That was attorney Harold Evans, a Pennsylvania Quaker and, like Count Bernadotte whom he has just described, a brave, modest, devout man of peace.