Courage To Be Superior

Grove Patterson - Toledo, Ohio
Broadcast during the 1950s

Through the years I have been asked many, many times: “What do you believe: What is your religion?” My answer is a simple one. My religion is not complicated by theology, dogma, creeds. I believe in nothing which is not intellectually satisfying. I do not try to force myself to have faith in anything. I could not possibly be an atheist. To believe in the mechanistic theory of the universe; that humankind is here as the result of a fortuitous conjunction of chemicals on the face of the waters countless ages ago, is an affront to my credulity.

I believe the universe was designed and brought into being by a Creative Mind and Power. This Supreme Power operates the universe by means of unvarying natural law. For me, the supreme fact is that I can by thinking, meditation, prayer, come into communion with the Supreme Power. I call this Power God.

I believe the purpose of God in devising a universe was wholly good, and that man, the highest form of life so far developed, is meant to live in harmony with the Great Power and improve, both in this world and in future manifestations of life. I believe in immortality, because I think it unreasonable to suppose that man can come as far as he does on this earth and be snuffed out with no opportunity to reach greater heights.

Prayer is a self-conditioner. Prayer gives man the courage which enables him to adjust himself to all the circumstances of life. Prayer will not enable man to avoid the results of his own mis-doings nor does it provide an escape from the evil prevalent in the world.

“If God is so good,” my friend asks me, “why does He permit evil in the world which He created?” It is a stupid question. Man, from the day he developed into man, was given freedom of choice. Otherwise he would have been a mere puppet of God. With that freedom of choice, he has gone on through the ages, making bad choices. He is responsible for evil in a universe which God created. Ho has violated- natural law. He has made a mess of things but the more he senses his privilege of contact with the Supreme Power, the better he will do, the less evil he will produce.

Because I believe the universe is governed by natural law, I think it useless to pray that natural law be set aside for anyone’s personal reason. Devout men sometimes pray for rain, but rain will come only when proper atmospheric conditions bring it about. Men seek by prayer to have their loved ones spared from the consequences of the violation of natural law. Such prayer is not the prayer for courage and for strength, in which I believe. The most pious person is as likely to be burned to death with his family in a tragic fire or destroyed at the railroad crossing as is the most worthless tramp.

Peace of mind for which we long in these jittery days does not come through escape. It will not come through withdrawal from a world of contacts. Rather, it is the product of courage and of an inner poise. It is part of my religion to believe that when one reaches the place in his daily thinking where he knows, come what may, he can take it, his worries and fears will drop away. The most profound courage that one needs, as Newton D. Baker said, is “the courage to be a superior person.” It is the courage that comes from prayer.

I know that in trouble I can turn to the Great Power. It is there and it works. I have tried it. That is my religion, and in it I have complete faith. This I believe.

GROVE PATTERSON, editor of the Toledo Blade, is a survival of a type once essential to American life, the editor who led the community life of Iris home town. Mr. Patterson`s name is a by-word in Toledo. He knows more about its residents, those who live on both sides of the track, than anybody else in town. Probably he knows more of them personally, and undoubtedly he has done more than any one else to make foreign-born residents feel at home. He has not played this role openly, or to increase his power, or to win favor, but because in graceful humility he recognized editorship as a civic function. Mr. Patterson once nominated Senator Taft for the presidency in a Republican convention, though he did not belong in the Taft organization and later opposed him. He has traveled extensively as a student of world affairs, and his personal column in the Blade is widely read. He has been President of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and is a lifetime trustee of his college, Oberlin.