This I Believe

Silverman, S. Richard (Sol Richard)

  • S. Richard Silverman describes his belief in the significance of all people, even a deaf child, and the potential of anyone to accomplish change in the world.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dr. S. Richard Silverman is director of the Central Institute for the Deaf and professor of audiology of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. After attending Cornell University he was awarded a fellowship to the Central Institute for the Deaf and became a teacher and authority on hearing and speech problems. Here is Dr. S. Richard Silverman.
It is my stimulating and pleasant privilege daily to observe a small deaf child, literally on the knee of his teacher, who skillfully, patiently, faithfully, and I dare say miraculously breathes into him that uniquely human skill: communication by speech, taken for granted by most of us. Down the corridor a bit, I chat with a scientist, who by his industrious observations and grounded conclusions probes for understandings of the processes of speech and hearing. And I contemplate the magnificent structure that accommodates these activities, built by voluntary contributions from many people of many backgrounds.
Then I realize the richness of my routine experiences and their significance in nurturing my beliefs and shoring them up during those occasional, inevitable moments when our only arms against a sea of trouble may well be a feeble ‘what’s the use?’ It is strengthening to be guided by the belief that people, all people, including that small deaf child, are important; that their aspirations, their purposes, their skills, their beliefs, and yes their limitations, are appreciated and understood; and that it is possible for humankind to be concerned about them.
And when I see the deaf child hear with his eyes through lip-reading, the victim of cancer deprived of his larynx learn to talk again,
the scientist ingeniously explore the microscopic structures of the inner ear, how can I help but believe in the great potentialities of man? True, these have been enunciated and demonstrated through the ages by the discerning Greeks, by the Biblical prophets, by the prodigious artists of the Renaissance, by the creative pioneers of modern technology, and in all places and in all times when man has had an opportunity to express himself.
But my beliefs have had to come through my own experiences and introspections. Along with my conviction that it is possible for man to get concerned about man, and along with my faith in his potentialities, I believe with Lessing that the pursuit of truth is as important as its attainment.
Man’s progress toward betterment is not inevitable, but it is more likely to come about in an atmosphere of reason, buttressed, as I have implied previously, by morality and hopefulness.
My professional career, then, has brought into steady focus what I suppose I have been maturing toward from childhood through the storm and stress of my undergraduate days, which incidentally straddle those bewildering years from 1929 to 1933. And I guess the short title for what I believe and how I got there was best expressed for me in the comment of a rabbi who visited our institute, when he said, “Ears have they not, but they hear thanks to wisdom and love.”
That was Dr. S. Richard Silverman, director of the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri.