This I Believe

Sinclair, John S. (John Stephens)


  • John Sinclair, president of the National Industrial Conference Board, describes his belief that faith in an immortal soul, prayer, knowledge of the truth, and humility will help him overcome discouragement, cynicism, and the fear of death.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. John S. Sinclair is the president of the National Industrial Conference Board. This is an organization designed to study the economic problems of American business. Mr. Sinclair has a broad business background. He was formerly a lawyer, banker, and insurance executive. Active in community service groups, he is now the chairman of the New York chapter of the Red Cross. Here is the creed of John Sinclair.
The pale streaks of dawn follow the blackness of night. The darkness in turn surrenders to the helpful warmth of the rising sun. And so it is with us mortals. The gloomy nights my soul experiences in the confused cynicism of my mind
will likewise surrender to the warm faith of God. But only if I exercise the power of personal prayer and humility, and hold firmly to belief in the immortality of the soul and the basic goodness of man, can this come to be.
Perhaps this belief can best be illustrated through relating an incident of last spring’s terrible tornado attack in Arkansas and neighboring states. John and Mary Malden with six of their family sought protection from the destructive black winds in a rude, homemade cyclone cellar on the humble farm. When the violence had passed from the opening of the shelter, John and Mary viewed the total devastation about them. Mary said, “We’ve lost everything we own.” John, dim-eyed, looked at her and quietly said, “No Mary, we haven’t lost everything. We’ve still got our souls.”
This belief I share with John and have since my youth. My own faith in God and in the permanence of the spiritual life were confirmed through early contacts with a simple-hearted, wise and spiritual grandfather. It was he who stimulated me to read and think. He once said, “I have come to think of death as a magnificent victory, so sure am I of continued life.”
Observing his last moments, I lost forever the fear of death and felt the calmness of the spiritual life hereafter. Events of later life have tested and strengthened these beliefs. In the stress and strain of adult life, moments of confusion, weakness, and even cynicism have been ended with this faith and belief regained, as the light of day follows the black of night.
One more thing I believe. This discouragement and this weakening of faith, this night of my fears, often originates from ignorance, bias, prejudice, or just plain lack of adequate facts and information. The history of civilization, the study of man and the past and in the current scene, are replete with the tragic results flowing from ignorance. Faith regained makes me want the truth. And understanding knowledge of the facts strengthens my faith and makes me determined to accomplish good.
Integrity and informed strength of mind and spirit are essential in our personal relationships and problems. Ignorance and confusion of tired and cynical minds and spirits impede progress. Faith is sometimes lost or clouded through the
unwillingness to seek and gain the truth. Truth must be winnowed from the confusion resulting from conflicting claims and assertions, and even from the impositions of worldly authority.
Goethe’s dying words were, “Mehr licht”—More light! And so I believe that today and forever we need strong and faithful leaders, a dedicated and an informed citizenry. The need is for more and more light, particularly in the field of human relationships, whether personal in nature, community, national, or worldwide. This I believe is the main course and primary hope of mankind, for now and for the future.
That was John S. Sinclair, a native of Brooklyn, who is the president of the National Industrial Conference Board.