This I Believe

Livingston, Viola


  • Viola Livingston describes the influence her grandmother had on her beliefs in courage, faith, integrity, honor, service, and love of others; and she explains how these beliefs influenced her decision to go to Korea with the Department of the Army.
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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. Viola Beal Livingston is the widow of an Army officer. She was one of the first to volunteer to go to Korea after World War II to help in the occupation. There she became director of the Information Center of the Army Department. She has confessed that at times she was a thorn in the side of military authorities for her unorthodox rescues of Koreans and Americans in distress but she was commended for her service by her commanding officer as his standard bearer in Korea. Here now is Mrs. Viola Beal Livingston.
I believe the greatest influence in my life was my grandmother, in whose care I was left at the age of 3 after my mother’s death. Every evening I would sit by her side before the brightly burning fire until bedtime, as she told me tales of statesmen, soldiers, generals, and admirals, many of them whom she had known and many of them who were our own kin. She told me especially of their integrity and high sense of honor, stirring decisions made without thought of self, very often with great personal loss. I learned many important lessons: to thine own self be true; stand by what you believe; have faith in what you believe; and, when you know you are right never surrender, never accept defeat. This is the standard I have set my life by and tried to follow.
I believe passionately in faith, integrity, courage, love of others. Losing oneself in service to others perhaps brings the greatest happiness, while love of beauty and music ease the way when the road is rough. One cannot feel really lost when one has many others dependent on one, and one has to lead the way with a light that must burn bright and true. I know that I have an obligation to do my very best under all circumstances. And if I have enough faith and the will to do, I will be given the power to accomplish almost anything, no matter how difficult.
What we are is what we have made with each act and all that has gone before. When adversity comes, we have the strength and resistance according to how we have built.
I believe that we all need a more sympathetic understanding of our fellow man and of the great desperate struggle of each individual soul, and the depth of the unreachable loneliness that is a part of each person.
Often when one has known grief and unhappiness, one becomes attuned with an acute awareness and one is able to detect the unhappiness of others, even though they may show no outward sign. Sometimes only in small thoughtful ways can we show our sympathy and understanding, particularly to those who have become embittered and hard and whose need is the greatest. But with patience, even they may be won over to a lasting friendship.
When things go wrong, I have found the sure cure is to look about me for someone who is even less fortunate than I am. I do not have to look far. And in doing what I can for them, I soon forget my own troubles.
With the loss of my husband, and my children independent, I found suddenly that I was quite alone, that I had to begin a completely new life in a new world in which, as I look back, I was hardly qualified to compete. My one thought was that it must be a life of service, the harder the better. So, I volunteered to go to Korea with the Department of the Army.
The hardships were many, but the cause so worthwhile I thought of it only as my greatest adventure. As director of the Information Center in Seoul, I had the opportunity to help many.
This I believe: that only in service to others can one achieve real satisfaction and happiness; that love is the great power we have to generate good, and which if used by each and all of us would enable us to soon overcome most of the troubles of this world.
There the beliefs of Viola B. Livingston who lost her husband and dedicated her life to humanity.