At the Frontier

Edward Morgan - New York, New York
Broadcast during the 1950s
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

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 an 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 when 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 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 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 myself, 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 tire permanence I need is floating there, on the stream of life.

Edward P. Morgan was a news commentator for CBS Radio. He started with the Seattle Star in his native state of Washington, later joining the United Press. While UP manager in Mexico he covered the story of Leon Trotsky`s assassination. He covered the liberation of Rome, the Nuremberg trials and the founding of Israel. He first came to CBS in 1946, and was the first editor-producer of This I Believe.