This I Believe

Reiling, Walter A.

  • Walter Reiling, President of Optimist International, describes his belief that all persons have a right to happiness, which is dependent upon the ability to achieve one's aspirations, and upon a freedom from fear.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dr. Walter A. Reiling is one of the world's leading optimists. Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, he graduated from Harvard Medical School and interned in Boston. Except for three war-time years of military surgery, he has since 1936 practiced general surgery in Dayton where he heads the staff at Good Samaritan Hospital. Twice president of Dayton's Optimist Club, he was also president of the Optimist International. Here are the beliefs of Dr. Walter A. Reiling.
The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America emphasizes again the right inherent in all men to happiness. In this little world of ours, this goal of material happiness is attained primarily by our ability to achieve two things. First of all, worldly happiness is dependent in part upon the realization of the achievements we desire. This means, of course, it is a successful culmination of our dreams and hopes. These achievements are strictly personal. What we want, how much we want, when we want it, and how we get it are only answers that I and me can ever determine.
Now the second essential ingredient for happiness is not a personal quality, but a universal fact. This is a desire that springs from the hearts of all men at all times.
Attainment of this desire is the shortest, surest road to happiness. It is ever effective; it is always a factor. This desire is a freedom from fear. Yes, it may be a freedom of fear of death, a fear of ill health, a fear of failure, a fear of criticism, yes even a freedom of fear of self. It is a freedom from worries that may crowd our every conscious moment. It is this fear, these worries, that can eat away the heart and soul of a powerful man, leaving only a hollow, useless shell.
I believe there's an antidote for this impediment of fear and worry. There is a prevention. There is a cure. When man acknowledges God and then in the very next breath admits, as he must, that God will not even permit an evil if some good does not result, he has a solution to his problem.
Bishop Sheen has said that all worry is a form of atheism because it shows a lack of trust in God. Today, things, events, and forecasts may seem so terrible, so forbidding, or so hopeless; yet, tomorrow they are only pages, lines, or words perhaps on the reports of history. The old adage, today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday, serves only to emphasize the written gospel of the historians. This day, this hour, or this moment is never as bad as it seems now.
I believe in the so-called philosophy of optimism. It is a method of reasoning that incorporates the lessons of history. Webster describes optimism, as a state of mind where one anticipates the best possible outcome, when one favorably interprets actions or events, and when one is cheerful and hopeful.
Optimism is a constructive, a foresighted, a positive approach to the problems of life. Optimism is the search for and the recognition of and yes, even the appreciation of the good that an all-good God spreads everywhere.
I believe in this hopeful anticipation that speeds a man through fire or lifts his soul from despair. I believe in this force that may build monuments from ideas or fortunes from ashes. This is the voice of hope and courage, when fear and terror reign. Optimism is the deadly enemy of fear. Hope and happy anticipation are the first-class tickets down the road of happiness.
I believe in facing every situation honestly and courageously, never ignoring danger, nor ever ceasing the fight against evil. This is a prerequisite for every free man. To make this stand, however, confident of success, one must sincerely believe that every problem has a proper solution. He must know and he must feel that in the divine plan, this solution is always productive of good. To expect and anticipate this good is a rational and sensible approach to the problems of life. This is practicing real optimism. This is a true approach to happiness. This I believe.
Those were the beliefs of Dr. Walter A. Reiling, surgeon and optimist of Dayton, Ohio.