Paying the Rent of Service

by Lee Hastings Bristol

In a complex society and a complex civilization the individual is enevitably confused much of the time.  but I believe that the basic solution of all world and group problems must first be solved by the individual himself.  Each one of us, whether we publicly admit it or not, has a deeply spiritual side.  Not one of us can conceal it–scratch the surface and it is always there.  So first of all–and underlying all my credo–I believe in God and an orderly universe.

As a mortal, passing through this life for just a limited period of time, I believe that happiness is a truly basic objective–happiness for one’s self and, hopefully, happiness for others.  It hasn’t taken too much living on my part to discover that real happiness, which sounds so selfish and self-centered, is never achieved merely by selfish materialism–it can only have depth and real satisfaction if it is bound up with unselfishness–a consideration for others.  Service is the very essence of it.  It has been said that “service is the rent we pay for our place on earth.”  That kind of service brings the true happiness we all seek.

The antithesis of all this is selfishness, which is outstandingly the greatest world-wide vice.  It seems as though all the world had the “gimmies,” selfishly grasping for power and more power at national levels, with individuals selfishly struggling for material things at their own level.

[. . .]

If only each one of us can develop a sound philosophy and work out a course of conduct as individuals, then I believe we can solve our world problems at the international level.  Thomas Mann once gave this challenging definition: “War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.”  With faith and good will in our hearts and with peace in our souls and minds, surely we can leave this world the better for our having lived in it.

Lee Bristol, President of Bristol-Myers Company, New York, is one of three sons of the founder of this successful pharmaceutical concern.  He is a graduate of Hamilton College.  A tall man, he has a speaking voice and a command of language that reflect his incisive mind and sincerity.

A supporter of such organizations as the National Urban League and the National Association of Christians and Jews, Mr. Bristol in 1947 launched an Advertising Council Campaign to do away with prejudice.  He thinks advertising can be used to sell not only soap and lipstick but sound ideas to strengthen racial and religious harmony.

[. . .]

Morgan, Edward P.  (Catalogued under Murrow’s name.)  This I Believe: the living philosophies of one hundred thoughtful men and women from all walks of life—as written for and with a foreword by Edward R. Murrow.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 1952.  Pages 15-16.

I think he has got it backward.  If we can solve our word problems at the international level, each one of us can develop a sound philosophy and work out a course of conduct as individuals, at least more easily.  After all, international problems are the easier one to fix.

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