Florence Bartlett describes how her belief in the unity of humanity developed during an encounter with Bedouins in the Sahara desert, and explains her decision to create a museum of folk art, which expresses that bond of unity between peoples.
And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Florence Bartlett is a world traveler, lecturer and civic worker. She founded and erected the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico and through her efforts the people of her native Chicago are able to enjoy many of the treasures of the world's folk art in their own art institute. Now Florence Bartlett states the beliefs behind her devoted service to art and to people.
Years ago, from the backs of towering camels, our small party ambled over the vast Sahara Desert. An incident occurred on this caravan journey which led me to believe more deeply
in the kinship existing between peoples of all nations. There among the silent sands unexpectedly we came upon an encampment of nomad Bedouins, and soon we were surrounded by a group of barefooted women. With odd friendliness, they examined and patted our shoes, which were unknown objects to them. We, in turn, were impressed by their simple genuineness and warmth of feeling towards a strange people--shown in kissing our hands and then their own, which had touched ours, and by the gift of earthen bowls of goat's milk.
So did a dark-skinned African tribe meet on a common ground with Americans from far away Chicago. I believe it was the ground of the capacity to appreciate something in one another and to express that vital core of love which lies within the hearts of men and helps to bind them together. As the years passed and extensive journeys were made, I often experienced this bond of fellowship between different nationalities. Perhaps it was my efforts to collect folk art, the art of the common people, which brought me in closer touch with their homes and lives. Gradually the realization grew that if peoples of different countries could have the opportunity to study
each other's culture, it would be one avenue for a closer understanding between them.
With this incentive, the Museum of International Folk Art came into being. It is the first one of its kind, of an essentially international character. And its underlying purpose is expressed in the inscription above the doorway: The art of the craftsman is a bond between the peoples of the world. Its cornerstone, set in a soil of desert junipers and surrounded by lofty mountain peaks, can well symbolize what I believe is true for all peoples. It is that kinship which springs from the soil of a reciprocal understanding and rises to the heights of a present
that one infinite God can be individually manifested by every man and nation in a bond of unity.
Today, I believe that a deep-rooted conviction is making itself felt throughout the universe, that there can be a closer bond of mutual appreciation between all peoples. It is a conviction founded on the rock of an increased spiritual discernment that an interdependence of nations and a world encircling unity is possible of realization, as each individual upholds this idea and endeavors to demonstrate it in his own life.
That was Florence Bartlett who has put her love of folk art and her fellow humans into practice.