The Way to Happiness, Understanding and Peace

Compton, Wilson Martindale

  • Wilson Compton describes the influence of his Presbyterian parents on his beliefs (including his mother's child-rearing philosophy of "The Bible, soap, and spinach"), and he explains how the Golden Rule is a concept found in all of the major world religions.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Wilson Compton, whose family name is almost synonymous with American higher education, is distinguished in his own right as an economist, public servant and college president. For seven years, he headed Washington State College, during which time, he also served as delegate to the UN General Assembly. Later, he became administrator of the U.S. International Information Administration. This is Wilson Compton's creed.
A few days ago, I was looking over my will. It was drawn more than 25 years ago. It contained this concluding statement: "I believe it my first duty to provide adequately for the necessities,
comfort, and convenience of my wife and my children and for the education of my children and their opportunity for useful citizenship. If I shall have been sufficiently fortunate to have accumulated property in excess of that reasonably necessary for this purpose, I hope that it may be used in such manner as to contribute to the necessities and comfort of others who may have been less fortunate." I suppose it is true that one's philosophy of life is likely to find an expression in his last will and testament.
I was brought up in a humble and thrifty home in what a familiar hymn calls, "the faith of our fathers living still." My father's household, although not in money, was rich in ideas. My father was a
psychologist by profession. My mother was a psychologist by instinct. They were devout and strong-minded Presbyterians. Both preached the Golden Rule. Both practiced what they preached.
They were strict in their standards, and they staunchly adhered to them. They ruled the family largely by example. Years later, my mother, who had been chosen as the American Mother of the Year, was asked whether she had any particular formula for raising children. She answered that she had a very simple formula: "The Bible, soap, and spinach." The Golden Rule, as it was practiced in my father's household, made a great impression on me as a boy. Since then, I have seen its impact in more than fifty countries around the world.
There are today seven great religions. Each has its own background, creed, and philosophy. Yet, through all of them runs a single golden thread, the distillation, as it were, of the accumulated experience of mankind.
The true rule of life is to guard and do by the things of others, as they would do by their own. This is the Vedas of the Hindu.
One should seek for others the happiness one desires for one's self. This is the Mahabharata of the Buddhist.
Do as you would be done by. This is the Zend-Avesta of the Persian.
What you would not wish done to yourself, do not unto others. This is the Lao-Tse of Confucius.
Let none treat his brother in a way he himself would dislike to be treated. This is the Koran of the Muslim.
Whatsoever you do not wish your neighbors to do to you, do not unto them. This is the Talmud of the Jew.
All things, whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even unto them. This is the Golden Rule of the Christian.
This is history's greatest lesson. It is the way to happiness, understanding, and peace. We live by
faith, but faith without works is dead. Man is made strong enough to stand and free enough to fall, but no man is free who is not master of himself. He that ruleth his own spirit is greater than he that taketh a city. The weak do more harm than the wicked. There is no easy way to a useful life. I found that the Golden Rule is the best guide for me as an individual, and I believe that it is also the best guide for our nation.
There is a beautiful adage of public service, coming down from ancient Rome: He who helps others to live righteously shall shine as the stars always. This I believe.
That was economist and educator Wilson Compton.