January 19, 2009
There is a terrific series that has been running on NPR for a while called "This I Believe". I don't think I could do a better job of describing it than this paragraph taken from the ThisIBelieve website:
This I Believe is an international project engaging people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives. These short statements of belief, written by people from all walks of life, are archived here and featured on public radio in the United States and Canada, as well as in regular broadcasts on NPR. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.
The other day I was able to listen to the latest essay as I was driving to work. Like just about all of the essays I have heard or read (just a small percentage of the submitted essays are selected for radio broadcast but there are a lot of the other ones available to be read on the website) this latest one was compelling, well thought out, thought provoking and inspirational. Unlike all of the other submissions, this one was written not as an essay but as a list. And it was written by a six year old. When kindergartener Tarak McLain was given an assignment to bring in one hundred of something to mark the one hundredth day of school, he did not bring a bag of one hundred Tootsie Rolls or cotton balls like most of his classmates, instead he spent time over three days to write a list of one hundred beliefs. For the broadcast he read thirty of them. They are all, in my opinion, choice.
Here is the link to hear and read Tarak's contribution to this excellent radio series. Tarak McLain's This I Believe.
For myself I have been inspired to try to put into words something that defines my own beliefs. Here is what I have come up with so far. It may change with time or additional reflection, but with something of this nature I do believe (there's one!) that what comes to mind first is often as not the closest to the truth.
I believe we are all God's children.
I believe some of God's children are foolish, selfish, mean and just plain old nasty and should be sent to time-out.
I believe there are always going to be circumstances over which we have no control.
I believe we have control over how we respond to our circumstances.
I believe love is difficult.
I believe it's the difficult stuff that matters.
I believe the best way to relax is to do something.
I believe that having friends is about as good as it gets.
I believe that listening to music can be one of life's great joys, consolations and all around human experiences.
I believe making music is even better.
I believe that words have power.
I believe those who recognize and try to use this power intelligently, generously and most of all truthfully are valuable beyond words.
I believe Italian food is the best cuisine in the world, with a whole bunch of very close runners-up.
I believe everyone should have good food to eat and clean water to drink. Wine would be good too.
I believe that when everyone has food and water the prospects for peace will skyrocket. The wine should be rationed for maximum effectiveness.
I belief that avarice is deadly and very attractive.
I belief there are heroes everywhere, the journalists are just too busy reporting on the villians.
I believe willful ignorance is dumb beyond belief.
I believe too many people choose to stop learning.
I believe more people than one would think are trying and trying hard to grow and learn.
I believe it is possible to learn about something without allowing it to shape me.
I believe dogs are essential to my happiness.
I believe dogs can be a royal pain in the ass sometimes.
I believe the previous two beliefs can be applied to just about everything worthwhile.
I believe every person can talk to God.
I believe we can also listen to God and maybe that would be a better use of our time.
I believe it can be done.
I believe it will be a damned bother to do it.
I believe that shouldn't stop us.
Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise