This I Believe

Williams, Alfred Hector

  • Alfred Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and former dean and trustee of the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, explains his belief that we all perceive the world differently and so we need to try to approach one another with empathy, respect, and compassion, and that this attitude is particularly important in the American business world where ... read more
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dr. Alfred H. Williams is a banker and educator. For the past eleven years, he has been the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. His career as a banker seems to be a relatively new role for Dr. Williams, even though his work has always dealt with the subject of economics. He was for many years a teacher, then Dean of the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is now a trustee. Here is the creed of Dr. Williams.
I have found this assignment difficult.
To be clear and concise about the values that shape one's thoughts and actions is not easy, especially in these confusing times. Each of us, I believe, lives in his own world, a world that is unique and therefore different from all other worlds. Each peers out through two small windows, his eyes, and through the larger casement of his mind and interprets what he alone sees. This leads me to the conclusion that we have not only the "one world" of Wendell Willkie, but also twenty-four hundred million other worlds, one for each person on this planet.
Thinking along this line makes me put forth extra effort to get inside the
other fellow, to try to understand why he thinks and acts as he does, and to respect his rights as an individual. It is not easy for me to do this. I have a low boiling point, and prone to jump to conclusions. Because of these limitations, I find it helpful to keep in mind that the other fellow is equipped, largely by inheritance, with physical and mental characteristics that are not of his own selection. Like most of us, he, too, may be having a rough and lonely journey through life. I think the average man yearns for the consideration, the courtesy, the friendliness, and the help of his fellow man.
I am convinced that the kingdom of God is close at hand at all times. Opportunities to help each other and to bring out the best in each of us are myriad in number. Nowhere are these opportunities greater than in the field of business, and nowhere are they more important.
Here in the United States we have created what is essentially a business civilization. Each part of a business has its essential nature, and each employee has a contribution to make. The lives of all within the business are closely intertwined, bound together by mutual obligations and privileges. If these are recognized, group life can be richer and more invigorating and come to full
flower in such qualities as respect, forbearance, loyalty, and reverence for human personality.
Perhaps I can make the point in this manner. There are 168 hours in the week. I spent about 40 of these at the bank where I work, and probably half that number thinking about the bank. Significantly, I give only one hour to formal devotional activity in church. It is on the business front that I spent most of my time and energy. It is here that I need to reduce the disputes and frictions that arise in the course of my daily contacts with co-workers, customers, and the general public. It is on the business front that I have
the greatest opportunity to work out my salvation, in so far as this depends on the spiritual quality of my relations with my fellow men. If with characteristic American vigor and imagination, we really work at the task of welding the principles of Christian brotherhood into the structure of business management, we shall find that business is not only a means to earning a living, but a way of life. As Ruskin said, "There is no wealth, except life." This I believe.
That was Dr. Alfred H. Williams, whose business acumen is felt within the walls of the University of Pennsylvania as well as the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.