Closer Than My Own Back Yard

Bill Sears - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Broadcast during the 1950s
Themes: morality
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I remember once doing a television broadcast from a Philadelphia hospital. It featured a contest among the children who had been born there during the past several years. The winner was a 3-year-old boy, and as the gold cup was presented to him, we took a close up. He grasped the cup eagerly with both hands and raised it up to his lips to drink, and then surprised, he lowered it and tearfully cried out, “It’s empty!” This made me think how many times all of us have been offered cups, which seem to promise assurance, only to find them empty, too.

The more I talk with my fellow man, the more I realize that as eagerly as I, they too search for some sort of holy grail whose contents can nourish all mankind. I’m beginning to understand the wisdom of Bacon’s words: “If we are to transform the world, we must begin first by transforming ourselves.” At the same time, I’ve come to realize that like the search for Maeterlinck’s well-known Blue Bird, happiness is not a matter of geography. I think it is found even closer than my own backyard: within myself.

It was a long struggle for me to understand that, actually, no one loved me—not my father, mother, wife, or children—and I believe that no one loves you either. By that I mean that people love the qualities that we possess—the kindness, the justice, the understanding—and as we add these qualities to our lives, their love for us increases, and if we lose these qualities, their love for us withers and falls away.

And what is true of individuals, I think, is true of nations. Respect, allegiance, and devotion—these can be won only by moral character. Anyone who lives in the sports world, for instance, recognizes the need for—the vital need for—authority and an overseeing guidance. When this law of order and authority is traced back to its source, it leads finally and inevitably to a belief in God. To me, this is the only true basis for a peaceful society. True, this Supreme Being may be beyond my definition or description. Yet, this tremendous force, which has been released to the world through all the great religions since the beginning of time, is a positive thing, I feel, and creates life.

Humbly before this force, I believe in meditation and prayer. But I believe in active living, too. I believe that I owe it to myself to extract all the throbbing wonder, joy, and thrill out of life, from my profession, from music, from the sciences, art—from all created things. In a wonderful, intimate way, the world is mine to fulfill the promise that lies within me.

I need only to remember one thing: nothing must come between me and my responsibilities to God and to my fellow man. Glory is not his who loves his country, his family, or himself alone. Glory is his who loves his kind. This, I believe, has helped me to look upon each dawn as a new adventure; a day wherein I may find the cup that is not empty.