Helen Keller Spoke (literally, yes she did) on Faith

In 1951, on an Edward R. Murrow radio broadcast, Helen Keller, assisted by Polly Thompson, spoke to the nation. The brilliant Ms. Keller, it turns out, though she never heard a human voice including her own, was able to learn to speak though she rarely did so, at least in public because she thought her voice must sound unsuitable to the ears of those who could speak without effort. I did not find a recording of this broadcast, but there are audio and video recordings of her speaking. I’d call it a beautiful voice. And her use of it I’d call miraculous. The assistance Ms. Thompson gave her was not to speak for Ms. Keller, but to repeat what she had said for the sake of clarity to ears not tuned in to Helen Keller’s voice.

“…faith is not one thing or two or three things; it is an indivisible totality of beliefs that inspire me….”

Helen Keller
Polly Thompson (left), Helen Keller (right)

On Murrow’s broadcast, part of a “This I Believe” series, Ms. Keller spoke on faith. Here is a transcription of what she said, from the heart and down to earth; yet theologically sophisticated in every respect.

I choose for my subject faith wrought into life, apart from creed or dogma. By faith I mean a vision of good one cherishes and the enthusiasm that pushes one to seek its fulfillment regardless of obstacles.

Faith is a dynamic power that breaks the chain of routine and gives a new, fine turn to old commonplaces. Faith reinvigorates the will, enriches the affections and awakens a sense of creativeness.

Active faith knows no fear, and it is a safeguard to me against cynicism and despair. After all, faith is not one thing or two or three things, it is an indivisible totality of beliefs that inspire me–

• Belief in God as infinite good will and all seeing wisdom whose everlasting arms sustain me walking on the path of life.
• Trust in my fellow human beings, wonder at their fundamental goodness and confidence that after this night of sorrow and oppression they will rise up strong and beautiful in the glory of morning.
• Reverence for the beauty and preciousness of earth, and a sense of responsibility to do what I can to make it a habitation of health and plenty for all.
• Confidence in immortality because it renders less bitter the separation from those I have loved and lost, and because it will free me from unnatural limitations and unfold still more faculties I have in joyous activity.

Even if my vital spark should be blown out, I believe that I should behave with courageous dignity in the presence of fate and strive to be a worthy companion of the Beautiful, the Good and the True. But fate has its master in the faith of those who surmount it, and limitation has its limits for those who, though disillusioned, live greatly.

True faith is not a fruit of security; it is the ability to blend mortal fragility with the inner strength of the Spirit. It does not shift with the changing shades of one’s thought.

Helen Keller
Edward R. Murrow