Beginning in 1951, radio pioneer Edward R. Murrow asked Americans from all walks of life to write essays about their most fundamental and closely held beliefs . In creating This I Believe, Murrow said the program sought “to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization.”
In spite of the fear of atomic warfare, increasing consumerism and loss of spiritual values, the essayists on Murrow’s series expressed tremendous hope. They heard a country moving toward more equality among the races and between genders. They heard parents writing essays that are letters to their newborn children expressing the hopes and dreams they have for them. And they heard the stories of faith that guide people in their daily experiences.
The events in Charlottesville, VA show us that as in the 1950s, this is a time when belief is dividing the nation and the world, We are not listening well, not understanding each other — we are simply disagreeing, or worse. As an adult I feel that there’s a responsibility to change that, to cross borders, to encourage some empathy.
I want to hear what YOU believe. I have written about HOPE, I have written about PEACE. I want to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.
THIS I BELIEVE
I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.
I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite.
I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating. I believe that people may be having MORE sex but that the sex may not necessarily be good and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.
I believe that all national politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste.
I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds. I believe that vaccines work and that the earth is round.
I believe that Robert Frost was the greatest poets of the last century.
We are stardust. I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself.
I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck.
I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too.
I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.
I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.
I believe in love.