All Commentary
Thursday, January 1, 1981

The Basic Law

A New Year’s prayer of faith and hope for friends of freedom.


      We men of Earth have searched to find
            A moral principle or guide—
      A basic Law for humankind,
            To light our steps, and to provide
                  Direction for our earthly course,
                  Derived from some celestial Source.


      And this has led, along the road
            That spans the dim, unfolding ages,
      To many a prayer and creed and code,
            And volumes of unnumbered pages,
                  As we have hopefully explored
                  The mystic purpose of the Lord.


      The Lord! Thus man has named the Power,
            The Savior, God, and Judge Supreme—
      Concepts of majesty that tower
            Above the substance of his dream—
                  A Lord to listen and to lead,
                  And satisfy his constant need.


      So men in new and ancient lands,
            Destined with sin and fear to cope,
      Have lifted heavenward their hands,
            To grasp the faded hem of hope,
                  Beseeching light, and strength to pray:
                  Help us, O Lord, to find the Way!


      For man has never been content,
            As centuries have come and gone,
      To think that nothing more was meant
            By his creation than the spawn
                  Of yet another form of life
                  To kindle Earth’s eternal strife.


      He hopes and prays for love and peace
            Among the nations; and he gropes
      For understanding and release
            From tribal hatreds; and he hopes
                  That men will follow, more and more,
                  The path of peace, away from war.


      And all the while his mind is torn
            With speculation, hope and doubt.
      Why am I here? Why was I born?
            What is my being all about?
                  Is man on earth by God’s decree?
                  What does existence mean to me?


      Thus questioning, he probes the night
            For evidence of God’s desire,
      Seeking amid the stellar light
            The secret and eternal fire
                  Which hopeful men have ever seen
                  Lighting the stars and worlds between.


      What is the lesson he can draw?
            What moral do the stars declare
      The while we study them in awe,
            With hopeful eye and heart at prayer?
                  For grace and strength and love we yearn—
                  What is there yet for us to learn?


      Our mighty Earth is but a speck
            Against the vastness of the sky;
      Our blazing sun is but a fleck
            Of flame that will explode and die—
                  And every planet, sun and moon
                  Will fade and vanish, late or soon!


      Thus speaks the counsel of despair,
            The pain that evermore assails
      The hopeful heart. But man will dare;
            His search for comfort never fails.
                  His questing eye is heavenward cast;
                  His courage, like his hope, will last.


      And somewhere in the aisles of space,
            Or in the temple of his heart,
      He hears the whispered word of grace
            Which love and hope—and fear—impart:
                  Be still, my son; your troubling cease;
                  Love God and man . . . . and be at peace!

Ralph Bradford, of Ocala, Florida, is well known as a writer, poet, speaker, and business organization consultant.

Reprints of this poem are available from The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y. 10533 at 20 copies for $1.00.

  • Mr. Bradford was a noted poet, writer, speaker and business organization consultant.