This I Believe
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Ray Montgomery is a teacher, freelance writer and former gunner's mate. Before his four years of service with the Navy during World War II, he was a social service investigator and county head of the National Youth Administration in the hills of West Virginia. His beliefs are the result of this varied experience, plus a good deal of sober reflection. Here is Ray Montgomery.
The problems which puzzle all of us today must be faced. Whether we face them confidently and boldly or in fear and trembling may--and I believe will--depend upon our faith in something stronger than a platitude from authority, or a myth built out of dream wishes.
My personal problems have been what we usually call the "little things"--whether to spend the money for an added luxury or to give it to a needy person. Whether to follow the popular opinion of the moment or to stand up for what I believed right. I have discovered that I have faced them more easily and with greater confidence in the ultimate justification of my choices because my experience has taught me to have faith in the God in man.
I believe that democracy and liberalism cannot survive without such a concept of God and a belief in the destiny of men dedicated to God. I am unimpressed by the promises of those who offer us a hell of slavery as the way to a heaven and freedom. In brief, I believe both the authoritarian doctrines of the right and the totalitarian practices of the left offer men nothing that is morally
right or practically reasonable. But faith is human, and a human right. A right faith in humanity. And the inescapable corollary that if humanity is worth working for, humanity must contain the essence of goodness--which men have always named "God."
In the teachings of Jesus, I find a plan of action for all who care to accept the responsibilities of being sons of God. From the ancient Greeks, whom I have met in their writings, to my most recent colleagues and fellow students, comes the proof of aspiration for betterness, of the reality of sympathy, truth, initiative, understanding and brotherhood, of the power of example, of integration, of knowledge, and of enthusiasm.
From my parents, my teachers, my friends who dig coal in West Virginia, my pals in the Navy--from all who have
contributed to make me what I am--I have learned that the God in us is real and powerful. From them I have learned to be proud of humility and humble before my job of being a citizen of democracy in the world. For the world has become too small for the privacy of self-seeking. We must all live together, eat together, plan together, work together, or we shall live, act, and grow no longer.
Out of our recognition of this unity, must come a faith equal to our needs. I know how idealism often wastes itself like summer rain in the dry soil of material ambition. In earning my daily bread, I too am often blinded by the very sweat of my brow. But the spirit in us, in every man, cannot finally be denied. We do rise up to meet the issues. We seek the good, the better way to get on with our living together. We battle constantly to deserve the name of sons of God.
I believe in this striving for betterness. It helps me overcome the weariness of defeat and confusion. It helps me hope that each new experience--success or failure--will add to my own ability to use the powers within me. For I find that if I am to love God with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my strength, and all my mind, and my brother as myself, I have little time left for wasting hate, dishonest tricks, and kowtowing to outworn formulas of the past.
That was Ray Montgomery, who teaches world literature and effective writing at the University of Baltimore. He has written extensively on education.