January 15, 2010

New York Inspirations: I Believe

Since I’m in New York for a few days, I thought it would be germane to offer some words inspired by the history of this great city, or rather, by one of its great men. I presume John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s ‘I Believe’ speech is well-enough known so as to require no extra exegesis from me. The lines typically quoted, and which sit at the foot of the Rockefeller (GE) building in New York City (pictured), can still serve as a guide for young men in a world which hardly ever stops to think about what a man is:
I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every
possession, a duty.

I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master.

I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.

I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs.

I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.

I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond; that character – not wealth or power or position – is of supreme worth.

I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.

I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual’s highest fulfillment, greatest happiness and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His will.

I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.

The words were spoken in a radio broadcast in 1941, in support of the Selective Service Parents’ and Neighbors’ Committee (of the United Service Organizations), of which Rockefeller was Honorary Chairman. They are extraordinary words, in and of themselves, but I might take the opportunity to dwell upon another part of the speech, which I presume to be much less well-known. In times of war and fear, it strikes me that these words are needed as much now as they were in 1941:
Those who say that the man who is tough makes the best soldier, know little of human nature. He who carries on when physical forces are exhausted is the man who is buoyed up by the spiritual force called morale, who is fighting, not for the lust of killing, but for a principle, a great cause, dearer than life itself. I certainly do not want my son made tough by his military training, nor do you. I do not want my son just because he is a soldier, to be abandoned by those influences that make for character. I want him to come back home, whatever his military experiences may be, still a man with ideals, holding duty and honor above life.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails