This I Believe

Joyce, William H., Jr.


  • William Joyce, founder of Joyce Incorporated, Shoe Manufacturers, describes how the deaths of his brother and son led him to conclude that he could only have faith in God's purposes rather than demand an explanation of His actions.
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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. In December 1929, William H. Joyce, Jr. founded Joyce Incorporated, Shoe Manufacturers. The company had one employee and a capital of $500. Today Joyce Incorporated has four factories in the United States and affiliates in eleven countries throughout the world. Perhaps even more remarkable than this material success is the fact that William H. Joyce has achieved it without ever losing sight of those values which have nothing to do with dollars and cents. This is what he believes.
Joyce, Jr.: Recently, my brother died at the age of 53, suddenly and unexpectedly, a rare, kindly person, a lively and stimulating addition to those who knew him. Two months later, Peter, our sensitive, spiritual, remarkable son, died of a brain tumor before reaching 13. Why, if there is an order or purpose in life, should they be taken? By what set of understandable standards or fair planning or benign direction was Peter chosen for death so early?
If there is a Judgment Day, which I was taught to believe, then that belief presupposes that God recognizes and keeps track of individuals. If so, what criteria did he use in taking the life of our son? If I persist in that belief, then I must require God to
keep track of every act and deed, public and private, every thought and prayer by every person who ever lived, and then in some manner tabulate the score so that an individual judgment, at some point with justice, may be made.
On the one hand, then, I ask this of God; but on the other, it requires of me a supreme act of faith in His ability to do what, to the finite mind, is an impossibility. No combination of known brains can even sensibly discuss the means by which we might invent a system which would, second by split second, forever record and weigh the acts, deeds, and thoughts of all of the people who will ever live, from the first man to the last man. So, I must rule out this human possibility and resort to a faith in the Almighty. If I do, then I must accept, without proof or an understandable blueprint, other aspects requiring acts of faith.
Let me, then, try to be consistent and reasonable. I cannot accept the idea that this marvelous world and its boundless mysteries are purely accidental. I cannot accept the order of the stars, the immensity of space; the mystery of a seed, which can be stored for thousands of years apparently dead, later accurately remembering, in fruition, its true purpose and order. I cannot witness our great scientists, unsuccessful in trying to discover the secret of green in a blade of grass. I cannot accept the unknown force called gravity that keeps us on this whirling sphere. I cannot accept its orderly course around the sun without also accepting the fact that in every conscious moment in life, we do depend upon our faith in a divine order as a condition of life.
So I will not question God’s purpose in taking the life of Peter at his then age of 12 years and 6 months. If I do, I have to question his judgment in the death of a person twice his age, and those at 100—in fact, in death at all. I do believe, in being given my moment of conscious life, I have the opportunity to play my part, and I do most certainly believe I belong. My spirit belongs to a divine order—not given me to weigh, blueprint, or describe—which is the order of the universe by His making, infinite in wonder, in grandeur, and in life. All mankind being a member of this order, we also, then, become a part of its divinity and life everlasting.
That was the creed of William H. Joyce of San Marino, California. An active, devoted citizen, he served in 1950 and '51 as the ECA's Assistant Administrator for Production.