No Better than a Criminal

Brundidge, Harry T.


  • Harry Brundidge, of the Brundidge Crime Report, describes his friendships with criminals; his belief that criminals, like anyone else, have good qualities; his disappointment in the failure of some Christians to extend kindness towards ex-convicts; his gratitude for those Christians who have helped ex-convicts find jobs; and the satisfaction he receives from treating prisoners like people. Audio ... read more
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Harry T. Brundidge has befriended criminals and scooped the police since he was 15, when he got his Uncle Albert's old long pants and became a reporter in Kansas City. He won a Navy citation as a war correspondent, was the combined TV networks commentator on the Kefauver Hearing, and had his own television program called Brundidge Crime Report. Here now are the beliefs of Harry T. Brundidge.
At one time in my life I wrote a great deal
about crime and criminals. I don't know how many criminals I came to know personally while I was a newspaper man, and how many of them I could truthfully call my friends. But the number is large. It has not been always easy to draw the line of behavior where it belonged, between friendship and the rights of society. But I did my duty on both sides of the line. I had my friends, and I helped the law.
What has not been hard has been to know that there is no line between people. They are all basically alike, all have good in them, all have the potentiality
of failure.
I have known some criminals very well indeed. I have known, too, that I was no better than they were, I was only more fortunate. I have been able to say sincerely, there, but for the grace of God, go I. And because of this contact with criminals I have been privileged to have more friends than persons usually have. And the friends I have had, some of them, have been better friends because they weren't able to make friendships with those on my side of the line. They knew I believed they had good in them.
They knew I trusted them. So they trusted me. I am rich because they did.
My religion has rewarded me. Anyone whose religion is people is sure to be rewarded.
Probably a lot of people don't have any realization that criminals also are people, that there is good in them, and the good will express itself if given a chance. I am not pretending that criminals can be reformed simply by kindness or trust. I am speaking only of the attitude toward them. The men I know who are bad--and I've known some of the worst--have become bad
by the play of circumstances, by obscure weaknesses in their natures, by the influence of bad associates, by drink, by one or another cause that decided their destinies.
I guess that not many formal Christians get to know criminals as individuals. So they don't apply their Christianity to them personally. Sometimes it makes me bitter to see the problems of unfortunate men pushed aside. They should have help and encouragement from the persons from whom Christianity is expected. But I am happy to say that I
have known some fine churchmen who always have been ready to help someone just out of prison for whom I wanted a job. I think in particular of an archbishop who never turned me down, and of certain men in the Salvation Army who always lent a hand. Thanks to such friends I never failed to find a job for a man who wanted to go straight. Not all of them kept the jobs, or went straight. But some did. I still hear from some of them. I still hear from some of the others, too.
I have often called on friends of mine in prison.
Well, I knew them. I may have been the one for whom the scriptural comment was made: "I was in prison and you visited me." I am not chiding those who have no friends in prison. I only say that if they did they would be richer, not poorer. I am rich. I am richer than most because I have friends who value me for the reasons that have nothing to do with my standards or their standards. We are friends because we like each other as people. That is my religion. And I thank God I have been given a life that enabled me to practice it.
Those were the personal beliefs of Harry T. Brundidge. And here's news: a brand new This I Believe book with 100 new beliefs now at your bookstore. Of these 100 new beliefs, 80 are from living men and women, 20 are immortals, chosen from all history to get the beliefs of most interest and help to you. Volume One of This I Believe was second in sales only to the Bible. Why? Because it interested and helped hundreds of thousands. This new book has more interest, more help. For yourself and for a gift, get Volume Two, This I Believe.