The Soundest Investment of All

Ingersoll, C. Jared

  • C. Jared Ingersoll, Director of the Pennsylvania Railway, describes the tragic loss of his wife and son and how he persevered through tragedy to find happiness in life again as a result of his faith and belief in an afterlife and the value and enjoyment he finds from being kind and generous. This episode is a rebroadcast of an earlier airing.
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And now, This I Believe.
2nd Announcer: This broadcast is the repetition of an earlier performance and is being repeated because of the special interest it aroused. Here is Edward R. Murrow as he first introduced the guest.
This I Believe. Mr. C. Jared Ingersoll is a man who knows how to run a railroad. He is chairman of the board of a line in Oklahoma, and a director of the Pennsylvania Railway. But he is more concerned, really, with the pleasure he derives from doing things for other people. Belief does not seem to be the result of ease, luxury, or far-ranging opportunities.
Often, it is the result of adversity and disappointment which somehow temper and toughen a man's convictions. This is what Mr. Ingersoll believes.
I feel very presumptuous and uncomfortable about trying to explain out loud the things I believe in. But I do think that all human problems are in some way related to each other, so perhaps if people compare their experiences they may discover something in common in hunting the answers.
I am a very fortunate man for I lead a full and what is for me a happy life. I say this even though I happen to have had, in the course of it, a couple of severe personal blows.
My first wife collapsed and died one day while she and I were ice skating, after eighteen years of a most happy existence together. My only son, a sergeant in the army combat engineers, was killed in Italy in the last war. Nevertheless, these tragedies did not throw me completely and I have been able to fill my life anew with happiness.
I do not mean to sound calloused. Those blows hurt me deeply. I guess that basically important things helped me most to recover. One is the fact that I have come to see life as a gamble. The other is a belief in what some people call the hereafter. I try to live fully so that when and if my luck changes there will be little room
for regret or recrimination over time lost or misspent. My belief in the hereafter is wrapped in the intangible but stubborn thoughts of a layman. Very likely I would get lost in trying to describe or defend, by cold logic, my belief in God but nobody could argue me out of it.
I have come to believe that I owe life as much as it owes me, and I suppose that explains this fine satisfaction I get out of endeavoring to do a job to the best of what ability I have, and out of helping somebody else.
As a kid I used to ride a rake in the hayfields. I got a tremendous kick out of trying to sweep every field clean as a whistle. Here I made a surprising and happy discovery:
that there could be actual enjoyment in the exercise of thoroughness and responsibility, and that duty didn't have to be a drudge.
I don't know exactly why, but I like to do things for other people. Not only family responsibilities, work on a hospital board, and various church organizations but also the most inconsequential things that might hardly seem worth the time. My office happens to be on Independence Square and now and then I have occasion to direct a tourist to the Liberty Bell or fill him in on a little of the history
of Philadelphia. The tourist doesn't seem to mind and it makes me feel good. I'm afraid I'm not very profound. I have tried to comprehend why something so simple and so sound as the Golden Rule is so often forgotten or held in disrepute. I can only say--and I say this quite selfishly--that I have found it a good investment. It has paid me a very high return, undoubtedly more than I deserve.
That was Mr. C. Jared Ingersoll, who knows a lot about railroads and people. He was telling us what he believes.