This I Believe

Hasso, Signe

  • Signe Hasso tells the parable of a painter attempting to create his masterpiece to describe her belief in the importance of refraining from judgement since it is impossible to know and understand the complicated events that bring a person to any moment or place in their life.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Signe Hasso is an actress. She made her stage debut at the age of twelve, in her native Stockholm. She became a leading Swedish actress and played in theaters throughout the continent of Europe. She came to the United States in 1940, and has appeared on Broadway, in motion pictures, on television and radio. Here now is Signe Hasso.
Philosophy, to me, could be one word of love, one word of a truth, infinite wisdom, common sense, so many things. In order to receive, I must give. And in order to give, I
must receive. Nothing plus nothing minus nothing equals nothing. I will not attempt to speak of personal happenings. We all get our share of everything. But this I firmly believe: I must not compare, for then it certainly seems out of balance, because I do not get more of either sorrow or joy than I am individually able to carry.
It's strange, but perhaps the most natural thing in the world, that a girl like I from Scandinavia would have to come nine thousand miles and, in the Negro race, find an individual to give me an answer to so many questions, so many thoughts; an answer so
simple, so down to earth, and yet so strong in spiritual power. I'm speaking of my friend, Ruth Thompson, an extraordinary woman who for many years taught me and many others how to hear, to listen, to see, and to live. I can't tell you how she does it. It varies. Many times, she will tell you a story and leave you to find the moral.
To me this story says very simply, that which has been said and debated in various religions and philosophies: There once was a painter, a very successful painter. At the age of thirty-five, he was already famous all over the world for his extraordinary talent. One
day he said to himself, "I must paint something that will make me immortal. What can I choose to paint? What will appeal to every man?" Then he said, "Of course. I will paint the Christ child at the age of twelve."
He looked for a model. He searched for a long time, and so he found a child that answered everything he wanted to paint. For a year, the child posed for him. And at the end of the year, he had finished the most magnificent painting that the world had seen for a long time. In every home, there was a print of his painting. Everyone worshiped it. Everyone found strength in it. And
everyone saw in his painting their own Christ.
Thirty years passed. When he felt life coming to an end, he got an urge to once more establish his immortality as an artist with another masterpiece. He thought to himself, "What can I find to paint now?" Then he found it. He said, "What do I get if I turn Christ inside out? I have Judas. I will paint Judas."
He started out looking for a model. He thought it would be an easy task, but in no man's face could he find exactly what he was looking for. But one night,
he went into a bar. As he stood there, somebody tapped him on the shoulder, and he heard a voice saying, "Sir, some money for a drink, please." He turned around and looked into the face of--Judas. He said, "If you'll come to my studio and pose for me, I'll give you all you want to drink." The man was glad.
After another year, the painting was ready, and it was just as great as his other masterpiece. Looking at it, he was pleased, knowing he had fulfilled his talent. He called to the man to come and look at his painting.
The man came silently, looked at it, and said nothing. The artist said, "It's a masterpiece. Don't you like it?" Now the man started to cry. The artist said, "What is it? Don't you like it? It's great." The tramp answered him, "Yes sir, it is. But you don't remember me. Thirty years ago I posed for you as--the Christ child."
That was Signe Hasso, an actress, who in addition is now producing motion pictures in her native Sweden. A busy commuter to Hollywood and Europe, her homebase is in New York City.