NPR just completed a four year run of This I Believe, a revival of the Edward R. Morrow series of the 1950s. I’ve enjoyed listening to the episodes of essays written by Americans about what is important in their life.
More than once over the past four years I thought about writing down what I believe. Since I enjoy writing it seemed like a natural fit, but I had trouble crystallizing the overall factor that is at the root of everything I believe. So the run of This I Believe came to an end with no submission from me. Then I received a forwarded email that both raised my hackles and brought my life into focus so this is what I believe.
I believe in love. Without love, fear, suspicion and prejudice thrive and out of them grow tyranny and disaster.
The love I feel for this big blue spinning marble is the basis of my belief in walking gently upon the earth and being a good steward. I believe that we are here to be stewards of the earth and all living things.
My love for the Constitution includes a belief in the freedoms outlined in that document as well as the Bill of Rights. I believe that those freedoms belong to all Americans regardless of ethnics, creed, religion, sex or sexual orientation. I believe that the Constitution protects women’s rights to have dominion over their bodies. I believe that it also protects the freedom of speech even for Nazis and racists, regardless of how scurrilous I find their rhetoric. I also believe that every state has the right to a state militia and police force to protect citizens and those citizens, who are found to be of stable mind, have the right to own rifles for the purpose of hunting or defending one’s property.
I believe that no one else’s marriage can diminish mine. Loving, stable relationships enhance our society and those relationships deserve to enjoy the same rights that my marriage does. No law can force a priest, pastor, minister or mullah to officiate at a religious ceremony for a couple whom they are unwilling to bless, but as long as the state seeks to legalize relationships between people it ought to do so wherever there is a commitment to making a life together. I believe in equality for all Americans.
My love for this country makes me believe that taxes are the dues we pay for our Democracy. I believe in roads to drive on, bridges to cross and a military that is well paid and cared for. Most of all I believe in keeping the most vulnerable of our citizens safe and that each American has the right to health care regardless of their income level. Taxes, including gas taxes, help pay for the infrastructure that is now crumbling in this country.
My love for my fellow Americans is the basis of my belief that businesses large and small have the right to make as much money as they can as long as they do so without hurting people or the environment and pay taxes at the same rate as the little guy and without loop holes unavailable to the rest of us. I would prefer that they made their money here.
Because of my love for America I believe that the $720 million per day being spent on a war based on lies has not made us one bit safer. On the contrary it has done more to create more terrorists and sew more hatred for us than anything we have ever done as a nation. Iraq is a made up country which our invasion destabilized. That $720 million of our tax dollars would go a long way toward repairing our aging infrastructure, education, renewable energy and health care for children.
When I was a child I asked my mother what manners were? She had two books of etiquette, but managed to distill it down to this; doing the nicest possible thing in the nicest possible way. Along with the Golden Rule, these two things are the basis of my life. “And harm none.” Choosing love over fear and hatred allows me to sleep at night. It allows me to greet encounters with everyone as an opportunity to give and receive love. Every encounter has something to teach as long as I choose love. Even the ones that raise my hackles.