Personal experience and environment have had much to do with the shaping of my philosophy of life. It has been my rare privilege to have lived through some of the empire building days of the great West, and I have enjoyed the friendship of many of the dominant leaders of that pioneering period. My early years were spent in the great mining camps of this western country, where comforts were few, and living conditions were most primitive. Each mining camp largely made its own rules of conduct, with enforcement of only those laws which followed the prevailing popular sentiment.
I once lived in a mining town that was in a matter of hours transformed from a peaceful community into an armed camp—no women or children on the streets, every man carrying on his shoulder a high-powered rifle. For many months mob violence ruled supreme, as one side or the other gained the ascendancy. Human rights and property rights were, alike, disregarded. Fathers were torn from their families and driven out of town.
Looking back nearly a half-century later, I can now see that injustices were committed by each side to the conflict. Consequently, hatreds were then engendered, which lasted several decades—transmitted even from father to son. Entire families were involved. I once was chased out of a front yard by an irate housewife with a teakettle of boiling water, simply because the newspaper which I represented held opposite views to those of her men folks.
During such a period of stress, decisions were quickly made; character was assessed at face value until the individual proved himself unworthy of confidence; needless questions as to one’s background were carefully avoided; sham and hypocrisy were abhorred and quickly detected; a certain sensitiveness to human qualities resulted, which led to a pretty accurate judgment of human character.
Out of this maelstrom of human experience came a very definite philosophy of living. A greater respect for the dignity of man resulted; many a heart of gold was discovered beneath the rough exterior of a so-called “hardboiled” guy. Generosity came naturally and often with a complete disregard for personal credit.
These experiences gave me a practical approach to the problems of life. Having come through them physically unscathed, I was made more cognizant of the existence of that higher power which shapes our lives in spite of all our bungling and feeble attempts at self-determination. They made me more tolerant and charitable; experience taught me to look beneath the surface for the true worth of the individual. It taught me to look for some good in every man and to try and overlook his outwardly undesirable traits. I acquired the determination to so live by example, rather than precept, that men might accurately judge my own character from my manner of living.
I firmly believe that I was put here on this Earth to learn the difference between right and wrong. Life’s experiences should teach me to properly evaluate those things which are good for me, and those which are bad—not only for the present life but, likewise, for life in the hereafter. Providence seems to have left the choice to the individual, and each must chart his own course. And I alone can decide what is best for my own well-being. These things I very firmly believe.