I am a geographer, which means that I am concerned with observing, recording, and mapping the differences between one part of the world and another, and with probing their causes and consequences. In the course of my job I’ve had the good fortune to travel widely, in places as far apart as Alaska and Australia, the Congo and California. Now the more I’ve seen of the Earth and pondered what I’ve seen, the more convinced I’ve become of four things:
First, that it is a good Earth. It abounds in noble prospects and physical satisfactions, in things that are pleasant to the sight and good for food. If given half a chance, it brings forth fruit abundantly.
Second, that it is an adequate Earth, notwithstanding all the manhandling it has had and all the abuse, it is still capable of supplying the needs of mankind. There’s no physical reason that I can see why all God’s children should not get shoes, and at least a couple of a square meals a day.
Third, that it all hangs together. A storm in the Appalachians produces a flood in the Mississippi. A drought in Australia means less mutton on the Englishman’s table. A warming up of the Gulf of Mexico means longer summers and better crops in Norway.
Fourth, that the Earth might yet be fair and, to quote the poet, “all men, glad and wise.” But how? As I said, my field is geography. Quite frankly, I find it difficult to believe that such a poetic vision is simply a matter of more bulldozers, more bushels per acre, more TVA’s, or even more Point Four programs. The best-fed nations in the world are not, from my observation of them, the happiest. Nor are the cleverest people necessarily the wisest. I believe in technology, but as an individual, things are not what I need most. I think I and my fellow men need faith. It seems to me that no matter where I’ve been, I’ve found men facing the same tangled stains of desires, the same inner conflicts, the same uncertainties, that I have to face.
The fanatical Berbers that I lived amongst in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa were no different from me. If there was a difference, it was in the way we went about gaining our ends. If they didn’t like a man, they assassinated him—and not with words, either. If they didn’t like a wife, they sent her back where she came from. Their biggest problems, like mine, were not physical or technical, but moral and spiritual.
I have become convinced that there’s only one way to deal effectively with this problem of frailty, selfishness, and sin—mine as well as the other fellows—and that’s by getting a new nature. Some years ago I asked God to do for me what He had done for St. Paul, who after his conversion lived to say, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” I’m afraid I haven’t made it too easy for Him to fashion that new nature in me, but I do believe this: that since then my life has acquired a new dimension, and new sources of strength, including the strength to be less concerned with my own selfish ends and more concerned with the welfare of others.
I also believe that if enough of us were willing to let Christ cast out our sin and enter in, we could change the world and live to see the day when nation with nation, land with land, unarmed, shall live as comrades, free; and in every heart and brain shall throb the pulse of one fraternity.