This I Believe

Schacter, Harry W.


  • Harry Schacter, president of the Kaufman-Straus Company, describes his belief in fighting for social justice: though one individual might not make a difference, he still has a right to choose the side upon which he fights.
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Harry W. Schacter is a businessman. He is the president of the Kaufman-Straus Company, a large department store in Louisville. He is a man whose ideas and interests go beyond his particular enterprise. What does that mean? Let Harry Schacter express it in his words.
I deeply believe in the dignity and worth of the human personality. Because of this, I want to see social justice done to every human being on the face of the Earth. Since there is so much injustice in the world today, I want to throw what little weight I have into the struggle against it.
I have no illusions that my help will count for much. But I firmly believe that even though I am but one person, my help can be made to count.
A poem, by Bonaro Overstreet, which I came across the other day, vividly expresses this feeling. It reads as follows:
To one who doubts the worth of doing anything
If you can’t do everything
You say the little efforts that I make
Will do no good.
They never will prevail
To tip the hovering scale
Where justice hangs in balance
I don’t think I ever thought they would
But I am prejudiced beyond debate
In favor of my right to choose
Which side shall feel
The stubborn ounces of my weight
I believe that my faith in humanity isn’t worth much unless I can translate that faith into action in my business life, as well as
in my life as a citizen. Therefore, my creed is an active one. As a businessman, I deeply believe that businessmen must not only have ideals but the courage to fight for them. I do not share the view of some that ideals for businessmen are soft sentiment, that a businessman must hardboiled to be successful. I believe that ideals are the only stuff of which progress—solid, substantial progress—is made in business, as well as in every other human endeavor.
I believe that every form of human organization—and that includes business—was made to enhance the welfare of human beings. Therefore, I believe that business was made for man, and not man for business. I believe that only those businesses whose policies are socially right should have the privilege to continue. Happily, I have never known of any such business which didn’t pay excellent dividends in the long run.
I hope to continue my faith in human beings actively, for all the days of my life. I would like to see that faith spread from man to man, throughout our state and nation, and throughout the world. I believe that the ills of this world are caused primarily by a lack of faith and understanding in one another, between human beings. This is due to the mutual fear and distrust, so prevalent among peoples and nations today. I believe that we must have the courage—and it will take courage—to substitute mutual understanding and trust in place of fear, if we are to correct these ills.
I know that this sounds naïve, but I often think that naiveté is an important ingredient of faith. I know that we can’t start on the path to human understanding on an international or a national, or even on a state level. I must start in my own community and with my own neighbors. That’s where the battle for democracy will be won or lost; that’s where the brotherhood of man really begins. I have supreme faith that despite the present world turmoil, we are closer to the brotherhood of man than we have been in the 5 thousand years of our civilization. I intend, every day of my life, to throw the stubborn ounces of my weight into the fight to bring that brotherhood just a little closer.
That was Harry Schacter, who lives his conviction that the efforts of one man for good are not lost, but become part of a meaningful whole.