What Heinlein Believes

Edward R. Murrow did a series of audio essays called “This I Believe” on CBS for four years in the 1950s. Lately the Bob Edwards Show on the Sirius Satellite Network has been shining a spotlight on Murrow’s old program, replaying one of the essays  every week.  

Murrow introduced the concept with the first installment in 1951:

This I Believe. By that name, we bring you a new series of radio broadcasts presenting the personal philosophies of thoughtful men and women in all walks of life. In this brief time each night, a banker or a butcher, a painter or a social worker, people of all kinds who need have nothing more in common than integrity—a real honesty—will talk out loud about the rules they live by, the things they have found to be the basic values in their lives.

On Friday, March 12 Bob Edwards will be airing Robert A. Heinlein’s contribution to the series, “Our Noble, Essential Decency.” But you don’t have to wait until then to hear Heinlein speak his own words — the thisibelieve website provides free and immediate access to a digital recording, and a full transcript.

Heinlein’s essay begins:

I am not going to talk about religious beliefs but about matters so obvious that it has gone out of style to mention them. I believe in my neighbors. I know their faults, and I know that their virtues far outweigh their faults.

I found the following lines particularly interesting:

I believe that almost all politicians are honest. For every bribed alderman, there are hundreds of politicians—low paid or not paid at all—doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true, we would never have gotten past the Thirteen Colonies.

I think he really did believe it, but after reading his characters define an honest politician as one who stays bought it was reassuring to hear him say so.

[Via Gerald W. Page and Andrew Porter.]

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