This I Believe

Dodge, Cleveland E.


  • Cleveland Dodge describes his belief that the world is comprised of both spiritual and physical parts, and that true happiness comes from "creative work" and "unselfish service."
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Contrary to popular fancy, there are captains of industry who handle things besides high finance. Take, for example, Cleveland E. Dodge, vice-president of the huge Phelps Dodge copper mining corporation, his interest in education and social welfare has propelled him into the affairs of such institutions as the YMCA, the Teacher’s College of Columbia University, the Protestant Council of New York, and even the Museum of Natural History. He is president of the Near East Foundation, which helps the impoverished peoples of countries like Greece and Iran in such vital matters as crop yield and malaria control. In his sixties now, Cleveland Dodge is a family man too, a grandfather of eight, with thoughtful observations on an active life.
For a businessman who is not accustomed to put his private thoughts into words, it is rather a difficult and painful assignment to try to discuss one’s personal philosophy in public. The only excuse of my attempting it is the hope that it may suggest some idea or be helpful to somebody else.
Undoubtedly, a person’s bringing up has a great influence on his beliefs and point of view. I was very fortunate in having active parents with well-balanced minds who had many interests. Both my mother and father were sincere Christians and progressive and liberal in their beliefs.
From them, I unconsciously acquired high ideals, reverence for a spiritual God, and faith that God represents the central power of the universe and has some purpose that He is working out. Former members of my family considered material wealth as a trust. Without any credit on my part, I inherited this idea along with a feeling of obligation to be of service to others. When I was young, I didn’t worry about theology or religious beliefs. I felt the best way to express religion was by using part of my leisure time trying to help the lot of other people.
Naturally as I grow older, I have paid more attention to beliefs. First, I think that there is complete unity in the universe. Second that the universe is divided in two parts:
a seen or physical part, and an unseen or spiritual part. In the case of man, it can be proved, of course, that he has the physical side. It cannot be proved that he also has a spiritual side, but all our feelings and experiences indicate this unseen portion of man. Personality is largely a matter of thoughts and emotions. These control a man’s physical actions. It seems to me to be reasonable to assume that the spiritual part of a man’s personality is in some way linked up with the unseen spiritual side of the universe we call God.
I believe that seeking pleasure, alone, never brings real happiness. I think that the greatest satisfaction comes through creative work.
This may be in the realm of ideas and literature, in the arts, in medicine, in engineering enterprises, or the social sciences. To get real satisfaction, it must be joined with service to others. The greatest happiness comes through sacrifice, I think, but unfortunately many people either never learned this truth or learn it late in life, sometimes too late.
In the past, young people have always had problems to face. With world conditions as they exist today, I am afraid that problems will not be less and that what seemed abnormal to youth in my generation will seem normal in my children’s generation. For this reason, youth must seek something more lasting than pleasure. They must be aware of the inspiration and strength that comes through experience of divine power.
To sum up, I believe there is a purpose in life and in the universe which some day may be revealed to the human race. I believe that God wants our lives to be joyful, creative, and in tune with his principles. Perhaps the chief principle is that true happiness comes only through unselfish service to a cause greater than ourselves.
That was Cleveland E. Dodge, a financier who believes that the real richness of wealth is mined from human experience in service and responsibility.