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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. Roger C. Williams is a valiant champion of the state of Maine, where he is publisher of the Guy Gannett newspapers in Portland, Augusta, and Bangor. Besides fishing in its streams, hunting in its woods, and cruising through the salt water along its rugged coastline, he delights in flying his own plane from city to city over the heavily forested Maine landscape. Against this background, Roger C. Williams states his creed.
Webster defines wisdom as, “the ability to judge soundly and deal sagaciously with facts, especially as they relate to life and conduct.” We live in a world filled with man’s accomplishments, but I believe we have gained very little wisdom
in the last two or three thousand years, and it’s high time we applied more of our energy and our thought and our spirit to seeking wisdom.
When I was a young boy, I sat one long evening and listened while my father talked for hours with Mr. Charles Thomas. Mr. Thomas was at that time a young chemist working for the Monsanto Chemical Company, and he is today president of that organization. Like most great scientists, Thomas is something of a philosopher. My father, a writer and a man who has by profession been concerned with facts as they relate to life and conduct, helped the scientist think beyond the accomplishments of scientific research and speculate on the application of material knowledge to the fundamentals of everyday living.
While I sat and listened with the hungry mind of youth, Thomas explored the future. I heard, for the first time, mention of Atomic energy, learned not only what a terrible weapon the Atom Bomb would be but the tremendous boon that could come to all mankind with the harnessing of Atomic power for industrial use. Television was only a dream of the future then, but the talk of television I heard that night explored its uses and benefits far beyond anything we will see for many years. They talked inspiringly about man’s tremendous accomplishments and of the great promises for our future.
These two men, in that long conversation many years ago, made a deep impression on me. They filled my mind with visions of the miraculous world I would live in. But they impressed firmly in my mind and heart the realization that man has woefully neglected himself in his progress toward our modern civilization. Their final discussion in the small hours of the morning
was of the fact that if man is to survive in the civilization he has developed, he must do much to improve himself. He must acquire greater wisdom.
I read an article in a recent issue of Colliers magazine which described in fascinating detail our plans for the conquest of space; told how a super rocket would carry men and materials into space, where they would assemble and live aboard a manmade satellite that would travel around the world in two hours. But I believe that before we can undertake such a fabulous project, we must be worthy of the accomplishment.
If the satellite is to be put to good use rather than viscous or selfish use, we must learn wisdom. Think what horror we can inflict on ourselves if we fail to learn wisdom; and think what wonders we may accomplish when we learn to concentrate a
great part of our energy and our thinking in our spiritual life to the application of scientific knowledge in matters which are directly concerned with life and conduct, rather than war, transportation, communication, entertainment, and commerce.
Instead of improving our gadgets, we—myself included—must improve ourselves. In 2000 years we have produced wonders in material things. I believe it is time to turn now to spiritual accomplishments, to seek the wisdom that will make us capable of living properly with the machines we have built.
There the beliefs of Robert C. Williams of Portland, Maine, whose hopes for the future revolve in large measure around the three sons he is raising to be newspapermen with ideals.