This I Believe
I believe that the universe, while having a natural order, has no inherent moral order. I believe that human nature can be seen as good or evil with ample evidence for either doctrine. I believe that there is no first principle that can be known, no God we can prove, no Platonic forms which inform our soul or our ethics. We are, in one sense, alone in the universe – left adrift and without guidance. In the end, I believe that the soul of the universe is essentially amoral.
So, without guidance, there is only choice…there is only the Sisyphean task of making meaning where no meaning inherently lies. And so I believe that the dignity of human life derives from mankind’s continued perseverance in endeavors for which the universe affords no foothold of encouragement. As human beings, our fundamental nature is to aspire – to create meaning where none exists apart from our efforts. These acts of aspiration are essential to what makes us human.
By my very existence, I have no choice but to plant a stake in the ground – that is predestined from the moment I was born. But what is not predestined is that I may choose where to plant that stake. We all do the same – we adopt a morality that is not required of us and no reason is given by the universe for us to do so. In the end, all morality is merely aspiration – built on the slenderest thread of hope.
Because I must plant my stake, I chose to believe certain things…not because I can prove them to be true, but because I aspire for them to be true.
I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings. There is no compelling evidence to prove that my belief is rational. Just so, neither is there evidence to refute it.
And if I chose to believe that all human life has value, then justice, equity and compassion become my watchwords and the values I aspire to live by.
Because I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of human life, I also believe in the importance of community for the future of humanity. Salvation lies not in individual experience, but in the experience of the community – in the connections of human beings to one another. All people are islands; while they are born from another, they die alone. Yet in community we breach the isolation of personal existence and have the opportunity to discover the inherent worth and dignity of the other. In this is love.
I believe that each person is responsible for finding truth and meaning, yet I believe that we have much to learn from those who have come before and those who we journey with today. Wise teachers — Siddhartha Gautama, Hillel, Jesus, Mohammed, Lao-Tsu, Gandhi and others — have aspired, and by their
aspirations, inform and inspire me.
And finally, I believe in the interconnected web of all existence of which we are a part. Morality does not exist. Yet we aspire to morality and in the human quest we aspire to give evidence to the divine we cannot prove in that mystery of the web of life. Here lies faith. Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love for it is in love that our aspirations become flesh.
I believe in these ethics, this morality, not by reason, but because in aspiring to them, I become part of the realization of that greater human endeavor. And in that sense we are not alone in the universe. I chose these ethics because of that distant human dream, that by our consciousness, we make a tiny corner of the universe a moral place after all and in that space find god.
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