What Would Christ Have Done?Warren, Constance 1951-11-26
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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. It is said that woman’s work is never done. Although she has no family of her own Constance Warren, a celebrated American educator, has a large one in the thousands of students she has loved and inspired in her long career. Age 70, she is president emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College and still a tireless worker, a brave pioneer really in the rich and vital field of education. Hear now the personal philosophy of Constance Warren.
I’m one of those very fortunate people who have loved my job, teaching, for I think it is one of the most important in this world. I believe that we must understand in order to live richly within ourselves and usefully to others. I’m convinced that misunderstanding and suspicion come from ignorance, and I have faith that most young people are eager to learn and very discriminating as to the values for them of what one has to teach.
I think we must all learn early to distinguish between pleasure and happiness, and that happiness is the byproduct of service. The key phrase in the Bible, to my mind, is, “He who loseth his life, shall find it.” I’ve never been interested in theology, but the teachings of Christ, seem to me, basic to
good living. I suppose I do just what most people do, clothing with all the finest traits, which I’ve discovered in the people I’ve known. And then, when I’m puzzled, I think, What would Christ do under those circumstances?
I believe strongly that we can never build happiness on the misery of other people, that the time is past when we can be content with relieving the misery of this world; that we must now focus our most constructive thinking and energy on eliminating its causes. The growth of this viewpoint seems to me, the most encouraging development in a troubled world.
Friendships are very important to me, for I believe strongly that human relations should be an
inspiration to creative living. I’m sure that, by and large, if I trust people, they will live up to my trust. I never look for trouble till it is thrust in my face. I also believe strongly that with deep capacity for affection should go equally deep objectivity, that it is absolutely essential to be fair with everyone. I never believe in competing with anyone but myself. I feel that that is the best way in the world to get the summation of my ambitions.
I think we are responsible for consciously training ourselves to so make comparison between our own situation and that of other people, that we avoid self-pity. Suspicion and self-pity seem to me two of the most corroding characteristics which one can have, and I must constantly be on the alert to prevent
them from getting a foothold in my thinking.
I believe that growing old should be a rich summation of experience, not a decay; that generally speaking, we make of our old age a heaven or a hell and can look for no greater rewards or punishment in any future life than we give ourselves in this one. Although a Protestant, I believe in the Catholic idea of a treasury of good works, not laid out by saints alone, but by anyone who has tried hard to live usefully and happily. I’m not concerned that my name should be remembered, but I hope that I may have accumulated a little anonymous treasury, which will filter down through succeeding generations and add to the sum total of right values by which men live.
Those were the views of one of America’s great ladies, Miss Constance Warren, an educator who has shared the rich human experience of her life with maturing young people.