This I Believe

Ruchi - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on June 27, 2006

I believe inspiration comes from a sense of wonder and mystery – the feeling we experience when we look at the stars at night, listen to a melody and even watch human achievement be it in a sports event or a skyscraper skyline. It is a spiritual feeling – uplifting, inspiring – and many times, the beginning of curiosity and imagination. But along with the mysticism, I believe in rationality. I believe that true wisdom and progress does not come through blind belief in what we have been told – but through rational inquiry and analysis. As much as we need inspiration to unlock the secrets of the mysteries of our universe, we also need our sense of reason. Therefore, I believe in education.

As a 5 year old, I remember watching Star Trek with my dad. I loved to watch the opening credits – and listen to the voice say “…to go where no man has gone before”. Those words were always stuck in my mind as I looked up at the night sky. I dreamt of being an expert on that starship – discovering the unknown. My parents encouraged me to dream and told me one little secret behind success – I had to first be a good student and learn. Without learning the fundamentals, how could I be a scientist exploring the galaxies? It was very early in life, but I understood an important concept – to value education.

Education gives us the framework for systematic study of past and present knowledge. It enlightens and empowers. It uplifts, and humbles. Once gained, it cannot be taken away. It can show you the harmony in mathematics and the science in music. It is about the opening up of the mind. And that is not all – on a social level, education brings awareness. Awareness makes us question old beliefs, and form new ones. It gives us confidence to stand up and ask for change – even create change. Awareness instills respect for other opinions and brings conviction to our own. If we are curious enough to ask the simple question ‘why?’ and learn to look for answers, we are educating ourselves – a little bit at a time.

Today’s globalized world requires us to be more educated about each other. We have to seek out similarities and respect differences. I have been disappointed by ignorance. At times it is blatantly offensive – it seems to make people more judgmental and condescending not only of the achievements of their peers, but also of history. Their life has no place for curiosity. How can one be inspired if the mind is closed?

The ancients said that knowledge was the way to the ultimate truth. They even conceptualized it as a Goddess (of Education), revered from India all the way to Japan. As each generation stands on the shoulders of their forefathers to explore deeper, they champion the human spirit and its quest for ultimate truth. We all outgrow childhood dreams, but if we try to just understand and delve deep into any small interest or passion, we can lead an inspired life. In this I believe.