This I Believe

Besse, Ralph M., 1905-

  • Ralph Besse explains that he believes in God because it is the only explanation that makes sense of the world to him, and states that it is important to know God personally and work toward achieving God's purposes.
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And now, This I Believe, the living philosophies of thoughtful men and women, presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Ralph M. Besse was reared on a farm in Ohio, but when he went away to college, he chose to enter the legal profession and earned his degrees from Heidelberg College and the University of Michigan. Then he joined a law firm in Cleveland, where he remained for nineteen years. Now he is the Vice President of the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company. To what extent is a man influenced by his profession? Here is the creed of attorney Ralph Besse.
I don't fully know what I believe, because my belief is an ever-changing concept. It is like a prism swinging in the sunlight, always present, always real, and always interesting, but never quite the same at different times. If my belief were ever to become completely clear and permanently fixed, I suspect that life would have lost some interest, just as the prism would were light to cease striking it at new angles.
But on one thing I am clear. Like millions before me who have pondered the mystery of life and the miracle of the universe, I believe in God. I believe in Him because there's no other plausible explanation for the grand design of life and matter around me.
But of course, I recognize that mere belief in God is a sterile thing, as sterile as a forgotten fact or an unused tool. To me, this belief becomes vital only when it is accompanied by a feeling of personal kinship to God, energized by some sense of obligation and responsibility to advance his purpose.
The discovery of these purposes has been the golden quest of man since time began. It has intrigued both prince and peasant. It intrigues me. And this is what I think about it. I believe that whatever part I have to play in the achievement of a divine order must spring from the capabilities with which I have been endowed. In other words, I believe that the high purposes of the Creator are reflected in man in the special faculties with which nature has blessed him. And so I believe that it is the purpose of nature,
and therefore of God, that each of us should exploit to the full our unique capacities. They are the ones which prompted the Psalmists to say that God made man but a little lower than the angels.
This philosophy has molded my life and dictated the course of my personal conduct. Because of it, I believe many things. First, I believe in a rule of law as distinguished from a rule of man, for law is merely a statement of morality arising from a creative organization of compassionate beings; while the rule of men is but the rule of force, not unlike that of the lion. Second, I believe in personal obedience to the law--the statutory law, the social law, and the religious law--for personal participation is required to make it meaningful. Third, I believe in both maximum preparation and maximum effort, continuous and lifelong, to do the most effective work of which I am capable to contribute to the maintenance and improvement of the
organization of my society. No other course would allow me to approach the maximum potential which nature permits.
And so I believe that I must produce the things men live by with an effort that will permit me to share my production with others. I believe that I must participate with my neighbors in improving my community, at home and abroad, with the hope that the world may be a better place for everyone. I believe that I must apply whatever special talent I may have, not only for the personal reward and recognition which stimulates application, but also for the general gain which may come to others. This is my harmony of the purposes of God and the practices of men.
That was Ralph M. Besse, an attorney and businessman from Cleveland, Ohio, who is also an active member in his community.