This I Believe

Hurst, Fannie

  • Fannie Hurst talks about the example her husband set of how to live a selfless life, and her belief that many such lights of selfless living--though small--can together illuminate an entire arena in the world.
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Fannie Hurst is a writer, a woman with immense vitality which can be seen in her novels, in her work at the United Nations, and on her television program. Her books include Lummox and Back Street. Here is Miss Hurst.
When I was engaged to be married, my parents were shocked one day to hear that a friend of my family had made this remark: "She simply isn't good enough for him." And I hadn't been married to my husband for a month when I knew what she meant, and she was right. But what is almost certain to be the larger half of my lifetime it was my blessed privilege to
live in close propinquity to a really good man, good in the sainted sense of the word--noble, pure, selfless.
He's gone now, but his life has taught me how the good that men do can live after them. When he died, this he left me--his light to live by. And his good shines before me, shaming me when I falter, encouraging me when the lonely going is rough--a light indeed to live by. And what a heritage to pass on--a man who by his own high living inspires idealism in others.
Have you ever seen an acrobat lace his hands together in front of his waist for another member of his troupe to use as a springboard to leap off and ahead? Because such a man as my husband lived, I in turn am inspired to try and move forward toward the ideal of attempting to do for others something of what he did for me. Now the greatest life that was ever lived
is of course the supreme example of what I am trying to say. That torch has lighted the world over thousands of years, and compared to it, ours are mere tapers. But you do remember, don't you, the speaker in the Hollywood Bowl, who one summer evening asked one lone person in an audience of 30,000 to light a match. Its feeble glow shone out. Then he requested the entire audience to do the same thing, and lo! there was light everywhere. Every taper is indeed its own contribution.
Likewise, I believe that life is most fully realized which inspires others to do better living. Now "This I believe" is a phrase to strike self-consciousness and a certain consternation into the secret places of any heart, because there reside the frail porcelains of our innermost thoughts. And we must make our way between them with the sinuosity of a cat,
or they fall and splinter into bits of inarticulate words. What I believe is deeply embedded in those innermost places of my silence. Yet the words I would use are such simple ones, the last words in the world you would think to bring about such complicated psychology as inhibitions and inarticulateness. They are the illuminated words of any language--love, faith, hope, tolerance, compassion. Without the cementing power of these beautiful words, the world would be falling apart instead of struggling to get together. I believe that deeds corresponding to these great words put an immense responsibility on those who live by some or all of them. They must pass on the torch of right living as the Greek runner passes his on.
First and foremost, I believe there is God to live by, the greatest light that ever shed radiance. Then there are men and women to live by. I try to live by the precepts of my husband's wonderful goodness and stainless life, to emulate in my faltering way the high ideals he has left me to struggle toward.
That was Fannie Hurst. Her husband was the late Jacques Danielson, a pianist and composer. Their marriage attracted a great of attention, because faithful to their own unique patterns of living, they had separate apartments in New York and carried on their separate work.