This I Believe

Eristoff, Anne


  • Anne Eristoff does not believe the concept of Hell should be a motivating factor for good behavior but rather believes that incentive should come from wanting to be a part of the natural harmony of the world through goodness, truth and beauty.
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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. The process of man’s maturing is slow. Sometimes we are so sensitive about our own deficiencies that we deny progress when we are confronted with it in our own children. That explain in part, perhaps, why so-called adults perennially despair the fate of the younger generation. Yet, as always, hope for this tired old world springs from the fresh, resilient ambitions of its irrepressible youth. When we started these broadcasts, friendly critics warned us away from the college crowd. Their
reactions will be either too cynical, we were told, or too immature to reveal any beliefs. Stubbornly we went ahead. One of the results follows. A statement by a student at Bryn Mawr named Anne Eristoff, a native-born New Yorker whose father, an engineer, fled to America after World War I from the Soviet state of Georgia, because he opposed the views of another Georgian named Stalin. Here is Anne Eristoff’s creed.
Within the last year or so, I have overhauled, as it were, all the beliefs that were taught to me as I have grown up so far, and in the process have changed and discarded many. I have grown away from the concept of a jealous, anthropomorphic god who demands worship and ceremonial attention. A god
such as this seems, to me, too small, too much like ourselves, too understandable. The power behind our universe and the other systems, in a space so great that we cannot even conceive of it, must be correspondingly beyond my present ability to comprehend.
I have come to feel that my motive in needing a good life on Earth should not be the fear of Hell or bribe of Heaven in an afterlife. This idea seems to me both self-defeating and self-centered. What to establish in the place of these old beliefs is still very vague and tentative. At present, though, I think I can honestly say that I believe in a greater-than-human force within the universe. However, I do not see any necessity for defining this force or for letting it occupy all my thoughts and energies.
I believe that rather than building a vast superstructure of religious doctrine based on the unknown, hereafter, and elsewhere to cover my ignorance of these things, the emphasis of my life should be directed towards making the most of my known existence on this Earth.
I believe that goodness and truth and beauty are basic elements of the supernatural power and constitute the surest force for happiness and peace within our grasp. For me, the greatest incentive and inspiration towards these things comes from seeing the beauty and deep, quiet harmony of the natural world. The realization that such awesome beauty and fundamental rightness do exist renews in me a measure of hope and confidence in a brighter future. I believe that everyone has in himself a
capacity for goodness, truth, and beauty, and it is in struggling to develop these gifts most fully that we grow most as individuals, and consequently can give most as fellow human beings.
Fulfillment in one’s own life, both on the outward level and on the inner personal and spiritual level, can best be gained, and perhaps only be gained, through a mutual exchange of respect, compassion, and trust. I believe that the person who fashions his life around a desire to attune himself most sensitively to the good qualities in his fellows will find himself on the path to harmony with whatever the central force is from which these qualities are derived.
Perhaps the realization of the insecurity, confusion, and tension of the years just past, and in
prospect, have influenced my decisions a good deal. Thousands of years of concentrating on the unknown do not seem to have benefited our world much. At the same time, the knowledge that science has brought us of sources of incredible and wonderful power proves that this could be a good, happy world if only man would fulfill his best role in it.
There the philosophy of a college sophomore, Anne Eristoff of Bryn Mawr, who looks at the future with a clear and eager eye, not unmindful of the human weakness which have made the past and the present so imperfect. Tomorrow, we suspect, belongs to such hopeful people as this young girl.