I Was Meant to Be Something
Brown, Margery Finn
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And now, This I Believe, the living philosophies of thoughtful men and women, presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Margery Finn Brown is an Army wife. She married her husband, who was a football star at Westpoint, the day after his graduation in 1934. When he was sent to Japan with our army of occupation after World War II, she packed their household goods, took their daughters--they only had four at the time--and moved to Tokyo. Later, in Kyoto, she got a job on a Japanese newspaper. There she got to know the Japanese people in a way not usually possible for outsiders, and in doing so, reinforced the tolerant creed she now expresses.
Stating one’s beliefs in public is a hazardous proposition. I’m depressingly aware of the gap separating what I believe and what I practice. Nevertheless, I find my beliefs, if not my practices, contained in the principles I’ve tried to pass on to my five children. These are the principles I feel have helped me most during my life.
I believe in God. I always have. I believe that He made us, that we are his children, that we belong to Him. His plan in making us was truly democratic. Each of us has a soul—separate, distinct, unique in its capabilities. Because of this unique quality, every person has a contribution to make. The contribution varies, of course. There are those who sew seams and make bread, others who will build bridges and rule countries. Whatever the contribution may be, honesty decrees that we be completely ourselves. In this lies our chance for wholeness
and sanity, for if I try to conform to the shifting standards of public approval, I add up to nothing, I am the sum of nothing—neither fish, fowl, nor good red meat—and I was meant to be something: the person that, oftentimes, can be of help to others.
This to me is a satisfaction more enduring than money or pleasure. I don’t subscribe to the theory that money and pleasure are evil. They’re good, but not good enough. To make them primary goals in life is to lay ourselves open to a danger more insidious than atomic wars or foreignisms. One swift way to fall apart at the seams is to keep a weather eye eternally focused on the dollar sign: The “What’s in it for me?” The desire to get something for nothing.
I believe you get nothing for nothing. The things I value most in my life, I’ve worked for. Invariably, the satisfaction came in a direct
ratio to the effort expended, and sometimes, oddly enough, the byproducts were more important than the end result. The reason for this may be that work makes us dig deep into our reserves and talents, forcing the door of our minds wide open. Opportunity need never knock, not even once. It can enter freely like a wholly delightful, but unexpected, guest.
I hope my children will have a strong faith, that they’ll believe in work and of the necessity to live elastically with a sense of proportion. Life isn’t static. Every minute requires an adjustment between what I’d like to be doing and what circumstances require me to do. Every minute I’m becoming something I wasn’t the minute before. The follies I decry so vigorously this year, I may easily embrace the next. Yesterdays mishaps can, with time, assume an irresistibly comic aspect. For this reason,
I believe in laughter, large quantities of it. Not the snicker, the giggle, nor the smirk, but the laughter that comes from the realization that I am, after all, a pretty small potato and life poses all sorts of preposterous problems.
Besides telling me when to laugh and when to be serious, a sense of proportion tells me how I should spend my time and money, which decision I should make, why humility best becomes me. It gives me an infallible criteria for an appreciation of beauty.
Like a yardstick, it measures the things all people share in common. For despite outward differences, we are all—black, yellow, and white—all tenant farmers in this beautiful, ridiculous, world. None of us are landowners. This plot of green on which we live and grow is not given free. The mortgage is paid when we live creatively to the best of our abilities, and grow in the likeness of Christ. This I believe.
That was Margery Finn Brown, author of Over a Bamboo Fence. She lives with her husband, who is an Army colonel, and their five daughters at Westpoint, New York.