This I Believe

Hurst, Fannie


And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Fannie Hurst is one of America’s most successful writers and a vital and thoughtful humanitarian. The scores of her novels and volumes of short stories have been translated and read throughout the world. Many have been made into motion pictures. A year ago, shortly after the death of her husband, the composer and pianist Jacques Danielson, she spoke on this program. She has graciously agreed to appear again. Miss Fannie Hurst.
One evening at dinner after my husband had related a decision he had made during the day, I burst forth, “How in the world is it that in all the years, I never remember you doing a thing I wish you hadn’t done? How can you be so consistently mindful of others?” “Oh, I suppose it’s because I have to live with myself,” he replied, and went on casually with something like “Please pass the celery.”
But you know, from that evening on, the phrase, “I’ve got to live with myself,” came to live with me. Now, we like well-ordered, clean, and godly homes.
We plan for them, we mortgage for them, we build in picture windows for maximum sunshine, fresh air, and wider outlook, because after all, home is a place to refuel, for strength and health, a place for enrichment and for privacy.
Now unlike manna, the inner life of each individual is where the spirit dwells. The house of you and me is even more important than the outer dwelling of brick and mortar. Do you like you? Is the structure of you a house beautiful? After all, it’s your permanent home, you’re its soul tenant. In it, you live with yourself, and no one but God and you know what is in your heart.
Now I don’t know how that man at the adjoining table in the restaurant where I happen to be dining, and whose face is so well known to the public, obtained his high place. I know only from the headlines the externals of his story. He alone knows all the ins, as well as the outs. His wife, seated beside him, wears the badges of his success, fine furs and jewels. The waiters are deferential. His folding money comes off his roll with a snap. Surrounded by the trappings of success, he knows how he obtained it, and fortunate indeed, this man—lying in his darkness later that same night, his wife’s jewels in their box, her furs hung away, his fine evening shirt on the chair beside him—fortunate is he if he can face himself and like what he sees.
We come to the world single universes, as apart as planets, yet swinging in the same human orbit. And most of us aren’t criminals. Our good intentions outnumber by far our evil intentions. And on that statistic, mind you, the human race survives. But precious few of us all together enjoy facing up to the secret places of ourselves in those relentless moments of invoice, when we enter the sanctuary of the inner citadel of ourselves. Don’t think for a moment that the undiscovered murderer really does escape. Neither do we escape from the undiscovered lesser crimes of everyday life—petty abuses, cheatings, the subtle destruction of a friendship between two people, those secret chicaneries of ours that never reach the light of day.
For these, the inner sanctum becomes a tenement—dingy and soiled, the air bad, the vista fogged.
Now on the other hand, those who inhabit a comfortable citadel of the few lurking shadows enjoy it there. The tranquil ones look into the mirrors, unafraid of what they see. Striving to live so that one may contemplate the mansion of the inner self and find refreshment of spirit there is rich fulfillment. Now personally, I aspire to live by the precepts of my late husband’s wonderful goodness and stainless life, to earn the right to live comfortably within myself, and to pass on, as he did, inspiration for better living for those who are left behind.
Those were the beliefs of Fannie Hurst, author and humanitarian.