This I Believe

Hodge, Herbert, 1901-


  • Herbert Hodge describes his search for his own personal, practical philosophy for life: to try his best at all he does.
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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. Herbert Hodge is a London cabbie. Although he now only drives a taxi one day a week to keep his hand in, he is still remembered as "the taxicab philosopher." In the late 1930s, he began broadcasting his experiences as a cab driver for the BBC and was immediately recognized as a natural. Since then, his voice has become one of the most familiar and best-loved on the British radio. Now Herbert Hodge shares with us his creed.
I sometimes wonder whether we human beings believe only what we want to believe. And then I say to myself, "Do I believe only what I want to believe?" And that frightens me, and I say, "Oh no, surely not." But now, when I try to state my beliefs, I feel we ought to bear that possibility in mind.
I believe that somewhere there is the complete answer to all life's questions; somewhere there's the whole truth; and sometimes we're aware of this truth, only we can't describe it. The most we can manage is to say, it was "as if:" "as if I walked with God," or "as if I suddenly understood the meaning of all life." And then the moment's gone. And I believe that most of our religious and philosophical beliefs, and
most of our great works of art--I believe they are human attempts to recapture those moments, our human "as if" pictures, or parables if you like, offering us some glorious glimpses of the truth but not the whole truth; or at any rate, not for me.
Well, I reached that stage in my thinking when I was about 35, fifteen years ago. But I found I couldn't stop there, sort of suspended in the middle of nowhere. I felt I needed a practical faith for living my own little twentieth-century life. So in the end, I tried to draw my own picture. It's what I call a "shockproof" picture, designed to guard me against some of the disappointments of life. So it's got no plans for permanent human happiness in it, and no paradise on Earth, and no pie in the sky. These things may be possible, but I feel
they're too far away at the moment to concern me as a practical workman.
My picture shows me life as if it were a job of work, with man as the craftsman trying to make a better job of it, and his happiness, such as it is, growing accidentally, as it were, out of his work. And I found I can apply this rough workman's philosophy to everything I do, whether I'm repairing a motor or writing an essay or making love or taking part in a political meeting--or anything. I can try to make a better job of it, and a better job of me-self as a man, and a better job of our human community.
Of course, if you ask me what I mean by that word "better," well I mean "better" as I see it, just as, I suppose, you mean "better" as you
see it. Maybe that's why we so often make such a mess of things together. But with all our mistakes, I believe we do make progress, even if it's only a tenth of an inch in 10,000 years. And there's always tomorrow. Tomorrow we can try again. And I believe there are still plenty of "tomorrows" for the human race, however destructive those threatened future wars may be. I believe human happiness is all in the trying, and especially in the "trying again."
That was Herbert Hodge of London, England, whose down-to-earth commonsense view of life and close identification with the ordinary people of his country have made him one of their favorite spokesmen.