“If I Were the Devil”

The late ABC commentator Paul Harvey (1918-2009) wrote the following piece which has been posted and updated many times since its first presentation by the inimitable newscaster who always ended his news program with, “…Good day!”  His style and his honesty as a reporter were in stark contrast to what you will hear on almost any major news outlet today.  This offering first appeared in 1965 and though I am sure Mr. Harvey would make no claim of being a prophet nor the son of a prophet, as you read these lines if you are like me in the recesses of your mind somewhere you may hear the thought bouncing around, “this sure has the ring of a prophet’s voice!”

“If I were the devil… If I were the Prince of Darkness, I would

want to engulf the whole world in darkness. 

I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population,

but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree.

So, I should set about however necessary to take over the United States.

I’d subvert the churches first—I’d begin with a campaign of whispers.

With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve,

‘Do as you please.’

To the young I would whisper ‘The Bible is a myth.’

I would convince them that ‘man created God,’ instead of

the other way around.  I would confide that ‘what is bad is

good and what is good is square.’  And the old I’d teach to pray

after me, ‘Our Father, who art in Washington…’

Then I’d get organized.

I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that

Anything else would appear dull, uninteresting.

I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice-versa.

I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could, I‘d sell alcohol to ladies and

gentlemen of distinction, I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.

If I were the devil, I’d soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed.  And with promises of higher ratings, I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions–just let those run wild, until before you knew  it, you’d have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.

Within a decade I’d have prisons overflowing.  I’d have judges promoting pornography—soon I could evict God from the courthouse then from the schoolhouse and then from the houses of Congress.  And in his own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science.  I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls, and church money.  If I were the devil, I’d make the  symbol of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.

If I were the devil, I’d take from those who have, and give to those who want until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.

And what do you bet I could get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich?  I would caution against extremes and hard work in Patriotism, in moral conduct.  I would convince the young  that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun, that what you see on the TV is the way to be. And thus, I could undress you in pubic, and lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure.  In other words, if I were the devil, I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.

Paul Harvey… good day!”

Note:  You can easily find Paul Harvey’s reading of this classic on YouTube

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