At the FrontierMorgan, Edward P. 1951-11-26
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And now, This I Believe. A series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. The strange species of people known as reporters are often catalogued as irascible and disrespectful citizens but in our unguarded moments we can be human too, or so we like to think. An associate of mine, Edward P. Morgan, foreign correspondent, magazine writer, and now himself a sort of freshman in this odd business of radio, has collected some of his own private observations about life and here he is to tell them.
When I was a small boy, I believed in God the same way I believed in Santa Claus: my mother
told me it was so. The process of growing up, of sorting out mature convictions from the world of make-believe, this has been a painful thing for me.
I still have my guard up against what might be termed professional religion. It is so easy for us to press ourselves into a pattern, to learn to say pious things self-righteously without really believing in them or acting upon them. How can I profess a belief in what we call a Supreme Being without showing an honest faith in the human being, the ordinary mortal?
Of all times, I think, now is the time when men must believe in men, or they can believe in nothing. If I cannot believe in the man next door and recognize and respect the human dignity, which is his
birthright as intimately as his skin, what valid connection can I claim with a presence in whose image I am supposed to be cast? But if I believe in humanity, then I come to know, inevitably, that there is something bigger than myself.
If I couldn’t figure this out in the spinning urban world where life is swift and often ruthless, I like to think that a kind of instinctive humility would come to me as I, a man, walked along, say, in a deep green forest, past the temples of trees, through the canyons of rocks and beside the avenues of shining rivers. Perhaps that is the time when a man’s mind can best reach out and grasp the stars.
I have a feeling that the world is bigger than we imagine; that we are on the brink of great
discoveries, not only in science but in people.
We are only at the frontier of humanity. We are just beginning to poke into the fascinating recesses of the consciousness and attempt, somehow, to measure that non-dimensional organ called the human soul. In other words, we are on the verge, it seems to me, of discovering ourselves. This excites me. This will prove that the world is not only big, it is also small, a cozy place where people can extend their minds, as easily as they extend a hand, and touch each other with understanding.
I believe people must have nourishment for their minds and spirits, just as we need pork chops and potatoes and vitamin C for our bodies. Malnutrition of the mind means a warped character as surely as
rickets mean puny bones. There is a certain rich sustenance of beauty which has helped me overcome this disease. For me, beauty is one of the most important things in life. Or perhaps I mean an awareness of beauty. It is everything from the warm, sensuous beauty of woman, who is life itself, to the liquid rhythm of music, the fragile, fleeting loveliness of daybreak, the terrible majesty of a storm, a picture, a poem, the open look of a child.
In our frenetic existence today, these things seem like a blur glimpsed through the window of a speeding train. Our very velocity adds to our uneasiness - uneasiness about ourselves, about how long we are going to live, about death. But the good things are there, I think, if we pause to find them.
And I believe that, as for himself, a man lives in the faces and the hearts of his children, and in the friendships and the memories of his friends. I believe that all the permanence I need is floating there, on the stream of life.
That was my friend Ed Morgan, a reporter and CBS newscaster, who for nearly twenty years has been poking around in various parts of the world and who has learned that beliefs don’t do a man much good unless he can believe first in himself.