This I Believe

Hoffman, Elinor Gene


  • Elinor Gene Hoffman describes her belief in what Quakers call the "inner light," and how that belief led her to give up an unsatisfying career in theatre to pursue the "inner light" more fully.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Elinor Gene Hoffman is the creator and narrator of the children's radio program, Stories from the Magic Land. With five youngsters under 10 years old, she nevertheless has found time to write a weekly philosophical column in the Los Angeles Times, lead a Great Books discussion group, and turn out 40 children's stories on records. Here now is Mrs. Hoffman.
Belief in God is at the center of my life. I believe there is in each human being, no matter how evil we may be, an indestructible, divine quality which can be appealed to, and which makes us capable--if we choose--of becoming perfect. Quakers call this quality the "inner light."
I believe every living thing is on a journey toward perfection and that my way toward this end is to seek to know God's will and do it. This knowledge is neither distant nor difficult to attain, for I need only seek deeply within myself for His illuminating truth.
Socrates, Jesus, Buddha, Schweitzer, recognize this inner light. They sought through it to know God's will and do it without concern for consequences. I believe this illumination is as available to us as it was to them. My belief brings with it the responsibility to seek and live by God's will without concern for consequences.
When I was twenty-nine, I was considered successful--wealthy, privileged, prospering in a career in the
theater, married to a young man destined for every worldly success, blessed with two children. And yet, I was hollow, full of anguish and despair. Outside my life, in some realm I could not reach, was the free life I sought: the life ruled by beauty and by truth; a life in which the principles, which beckoned to me, could be applied daily; where I could seek, first, the Kingdom of God; take no thought for the morrow, overcome evil with good; where I could rejoice and be exceeding glad.
I was not able to act from these principals within the context of life as I was living it. So, not without deep doubt, I had to renounce it. Though my decision may have been truly judged as selfish and careless of others, I think it was not. In my new life, I am free to bring my acts into harmony with my
ideals. I have come to some conclusions. They are not final but are subject to increased understanding.
I know that God's way is the way of love and cannot be served by violence. This means I've had to give up spanking my children or using intellectual or emotional violence to force them to do anything. Instead, I'm trying to learn to meet irritating experiences with patience and love. In fact, the only way I may rightly treat anyone on earth is with reverence, compassion, and love. And only in this way can we appeal to that quality which leads men to publish truth, to see beauty, and to know God.
Those were the beliefs of Elinor Gene Hoffman of Pasadena, California. She gave up a career in the theatre to devote herself to finding the good life.