This I Believe

Runbeck, Margaret Lee


  • Margaret Runbeck describes her trip to India to combat illiteracy, and her belief that there is a spiritual revival underway, as people realize that rational intelligence alone cannot prevent "global suicide."
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Margaret Lee Runbeck is a novelist and short story writer. She recently returned from a Point Four assignment in India. She is the author of several spiritual books, including A Hungry Man Dreams and The Great Answer. Here now is Margaret Lee Runbeck.
I believe that throughout the world, emphasis is shifting from head importance to heart importance. We had come to a black moment in our history when progress seemed to add up to the possibility of global suicide. The horror of that realization stunned us into confusion for a while, but gradually we are emerging into a new way of seeing ourselves and our neighbors, both
individually and nationally. The utter extremity has released a surge of compassion across the world. If we are to survive, it must be through understanding and through the almost unimaginable miracle of global love.
I spent six months in India this year in the crusade to lift the darkness of illiteracy from three hundred million people. My part was to write small novels for the people who had just learned to read. The love which came back to me through this work, the opening of Indian hearts which showed me the great spiritual treasures of that civilization, gave me back something as valuable as any American help could give India. I went to give. I came back rich with what I received.
America was built by men and women who loved God enough and humanity enough to leave home in order to worship in freedom.
American history strides along with a Bible under its arm. But our overwhelming success in creating material comforts and ease sometimes makes us forget that our nation’s real and original meaning was a spiritual one. The concept of democracy itself came out of the Bible, which tells that all men are created equal in God’s sight. I believe that sometime not too far away from this moment, America will find a way of showing the world this side of our character, and not just the technical know-how devoted to physical abundance and comfort.
It is a deep necessity of our national psychology that we must share what we have. We cannot be secure and fortunate while three-fifths of the world is starving and ignorant and burdened. We are just beginning to discover that the gift cannot be one-sided;
it must be an exchange. Too opulent, one-sided giving brings cynicism for the giver and the receiver alike. So we must learn how to accept the spiritual bounty and beauty of our neighbors and match it with the richness of our own spiritual meaning. Sometimes in India when people knew me well enough to trust me, they asked, “What does America expect to gain by making India as materialistic as she is?” Then I would see that we had given only one part of our gift. We had sent the object, but had not expressed the love which prompted it.
So that, it seems to me, is our task, which is coming into view over the horizon. We have to rescue our country from its misinterpretations, some merely ignorant and some malicious. We have to meet our neighbors on spiritual grounds. This cannot be
done by governments. Only person to person can we express love to each other. When we find our American way of doing this, we can unite the world.
I believe there is a spiritual revival going on all over the world. Because I have written two books on answered prayer, my mail brings me thousands of letters which tell that the greatest revolution happening today is going on in men’s souls. Men are finding that life is good only in so far as it feeds the soul with satisfaction and peace. We have come to this moment on our journey headfirst. I believe we are going on from here heart-first.
Those were the beliefs of Margaret Lee Runbeck, novelist, teacher and humanitarian.