This I Believe

Klutznick, Philip M.


  • Philip Klutznick describes his beliefs in the importance of formal religion, the need to view "charity" as "doing justice," the need to view life as full of opportunities rather than troubles, and the importance of planned communities that preserve a sense of human dignity.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Philip M. Klutznick is international president of B'nai B'rith, the world's oldest and largest Jewish service organization. The only compensation he receives for this job, which has meant his stepping out of an active business life for three years, is a chance to work for others. Philip Klutznick's creed shows why he finds that that is more than enough.
I believe in God. It seems as though I've always believed in God. But the significance of that faith, as in so many instances, deepened in a moment of tragic loss of a 3-year-old son. Before that, I might have subconsciously questioned my belief at times. Since then, nearly seventeen years
ago, it has been part of me. What is more important, I have learned to appreciate the place of formal religion, as a means of expressing faith. Some learn this in a moment of tragedy. Perhaps it came to me that way.
However, I really appreciated it when I headed a company that built a town from a prairie. We planned for churches and synagogues from the time that we first drew a line across the drawing board. Some planners provide for churches in a town plan so as to fill out the physical aspects of a typical American town. I insisted on it because I felt that without formal religion, there could be no town. Before my eyes, I saw the wholesome influence of formal religion, as it built Park Forest into a
community with a sense of civic responsibility, self-respect, and quiet dignity.
Some beliefs may change with time and circumstances. In the Ô20s when I was growing up, I learned to live by the offer of the new Promised Land: a return to normalcy. Now I live by the belief that each day is in itself the normal day. Each day is full of its own problems and, what is more important, its own challenges and opportunities. No magical force will bring a better day if I don't help bring it. And if I wait for it, it may never come. There's too little time in this earthly existence to decry the present. I live by the belief that each day and each week is its own norm.
I believe most genuine happiness comes from what you can do for others. This is true in business. I
have tried in my business to maintain some balance between the making of profits and the making of greater comforts for tenants and customers. This is not always easy to do, but doing it brings a bundle of satisfaction. I am convinced that there would be less for the psychiatrists to do if more people searched for their release from frustrations and disappointments in working to aid others.
I like the absence of the word "charity" from the ancient language of my faith. I prefer the word sedaka, which is literally translated to mean "justice." It makes me feel the fullness of life when I am engaged not in doling out charity, but doing justice. I have always believed in the dignity of the individual, perhaps because I have seen that dignity abused too frequently. But along with this
concept, I have seen the sheer loneliness of human existence and the insufficiency of a man standing isolated from his fellow man.
My belief in God and the necessity of formalizing that belief through religion; my belief in the happiness that comes from doing justice, not charity; my belief in the opportunities and challenges of each day, not its woes and its problems; my belief in the necessity of building human communities with a sense of responsibility for preserving the dignity of the individual. All these epitomize my basic belief that with all of its headaches, life is a great and a moving drama, not a tragedy.
There the beliefs of Philip M. Klutznick, of Park Forest, Illinois. He is international
president of B'nai B'rith, an attorney, and chairman of the firm which planned and build Park Forest.