This I Believe

Yoder, Hilda Widener


  • Hilda Yoder describes how she used to emphasize marriage and financial security, only to lose both her husband and home; she describes how she found purpose and healing in serving others; and she states her beliefs in virtues of kindness, forgiveness, simplicity, and humilty that are still practiced by children (and should be practiced by adults).
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Hilda Widener Yoder is specialist in the field of reading improvement. A native of Hickory, North Carolina, she taught school, did psychiatric research and became a supervisor of New York Reading Clinic. In nineteen-forty-nine she founded the Yoder Reading Center and the remedial reading clinic at Presbyterian Hospital. Here now are the beliefs of Mrs. Hilda Widener Yoder.
Each morning, as I see the children come into the reading center, I feel that here is the embodiment of what I believe is the best in our world. I look at little children and see in their
sincerity and their simplicity the answer to professional and personal problems alike. Here are human beings who are new enough in our world to be full of loving kindness, forgiveness, courage, and happy anticipation of every new day. I believe that these are the virtues which we should not throw off as we grow into adults. Rather, we should hold onto them for dear life. Indeed, life will not be dear if we do not.
During my early life as a teacher, I was preoccupied with being a good wife and having a home. There was, I think now, too much emphasis on security, measured by accumulating things. One night
my husband and home were destroyed. Everything that I held precious was gone. The months of grieving that followed seemed to be dominated by the thought: What's the use to go on? I saw a little poem. The essence was: Sorrow attracts no one. If you laugh, people will come to see what you're laughing at. I kept this simple poem in my billfold for some years, for I had to remind myself constantly of this truth. It helped me to reach the decision not to allow another day to be blemished by the past. I believe every day is too precious to be overshadowed by days already gone by.
I looked around me to see how I could make a day count for the most, and the answer came. I had
taken care of my sick brother for years, and I decided that perhaps I could help other persons. With each of these persons who comes to see me, there's excitement, for I have the opportunity to practice my beliefs--simplicity, honest humility, as shown by a child. I'm reminded of a fact every mother believes: smile at a baby and you get a smile; frown and he turns away or cries. That discovery holds true, I believe, for humans of any age.
In the days that I have been thinking over my beliefs, I turned to my students for the help and encouragement they usually ask of me: What shall I tell the people I believe in? I asked them. A
12-year-old boy had to answer immediately. "Miss Yoder, you tell them you believe in us boys." I do believe in those boys. When I am discouraged, I look around at the children. When I lose hope, I find in a child's face the renewed hope I need: loving kindness, forgiveness, and that supreme lack of self-consciousness and a lack of pretentiousness, known as simplicity. This is no new statement of belief. Long ago, a wise and gentle man said, "Unless ye become as a little child, ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
That was Hilda Widener Yoder, remedial reading specialist of New York.