This I Believe

Ball, Edmund F.

  • Edmund Ball describes his belief that, though he doesn't believe in a personal being who directs specific life events, there is still an overall plan to the world, and individuals must act as "trustees" to make the best use of the opportunities they have received in life.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Edmund F. Ball is the president of a firm known nationally in the manufacture of glass containers, rubber and plastic products. He joined the Ball Brothers Company in 1928. During World War II, he was a pilot, serving on the staffs of General Eisenhower, Clark and Bradley. After the war, he returned to Muncie, Indiana, to head his family firm. Here now is Edmund Ball.
Ever since my father died when I was a freshman in college, I've had responsibilities thrown at me. Over the years, I have come to believe that we are sent into this world as trustees, for the lack of a better word, to do the best our abilities will permit with, and for, the things that circumstances
place before us as responsibilities.
That birth, environment, ability, health, intelligence, or accident gives one a greater opportunity for service than another is not important. What is important is that when opportunities large or small present themselves, we do our utmost to administer our trust to the greatest good as we see it.
Through some great master plan far beyond my comprehension, we come into this world entrusted with a mysterious spark of life and an inherent ability to reason. What we do with this sacred trusteeship, after we got away from the influence of environment, parents, and teachers, becomes pretty much our individual choice. Empowered with these precious gifts of life and reason, we do good, do harm, or do
nothing if we choose.
I cannot find the complacency to believe there is a supreme being who plots the every action of our days, who would plan the killing of a sparrow by a hawk, the terrible sufferings of human beings such as I saw during the last war, nor the sudden death in a fishing boat explosion of the mother of my children, whom we all loved dearly.
But I do find it easy to believe that there is a great overall plan in which we are given the opportunity to play a part. In this plan, there are laws of nature and laws of change. And in the laws of change, there is an element of accidentalism, which brings about the evolution of a species or a
race, a world or a universe. There is nothing so constant as change, whether it be caused by a leaking gasoline line, the ambitions of a dictator, or the disintegration of some remote, celestial planet.
In this master plan, we human beings are given the opportunity, even from the depth of tragedy and destruction, to find compensation, as if we accept the responsibility to do so. I am happily remarried, and our family is again complete. Out of a terrible war have come wonder drugs, amazing progress in medicine and surgery, and advancement in science and industry. Whether it comes through adversity or good fortune, I believe we must accept the challenge to do the best our abilities will permit with a given situation.
Though my individual part may be infinitesimal, it is important that I execute my responsibilities to the best of my ability with the hope that the aggregate of all human effort may be for continual improvement, as it has over the ages, instead of regression. I am not too concerned with building up points in this life for some heavenly reward hereafter. But I am concerned that by my life's work, I may have made some small contribution to the improvement of my children's--and my children's children's--opportunities.
I shall hope the responsibilities, which have come into my trusteeship during my lifetime, shall be a little better for the stewardship. Daniel Webster said, "Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them
good citizens." And I believe the reverse is just as true.
That was Edmund F. Ball, president of the Ball Brothers Company in Muncie, Indiana.