This I Believe

Dana - Scottsdale, Arizona
Entered on July 6, 2006

This I believe: Get on the field. Join the game. Even if I don’t know how to tackle it all, I must get involved in what’s happening in our world. Even if I feel I can’t do much, I can still do something.

This epiphany hit me fifteen years ago on a snowy day in upstate New York during college. I was sitting in a class called Religious Values and Social Ethics. That thriller of a title alone wouldn’t have drawn me in, but my friend swore by the professor, the university’s ex-chaplin.

The course started around the beginning of the first Iraq war, and many students felt powerless and disconnected. Apathy was setting in. What could we really do anyway? The chaplin, Coleman Brown, called us up quick, “That’s what worries me about your generation. You think if you can’t fix it completely, there’s no point in doing anything at all.”

That sure slapped my excuses out of me. From that moment onward, I knew one of my guiding beliefs would be “do something – even if it’s small.” Don’t worry if you don’t know how to win the game, just get on the field.

Now there’s a second Iraq war. Like many, I remain baffled about how things can improve there, though I desperately know they must. As I hear the news updates, I struggle with feelings of frustration and uselessness.

Yet, even though I don’t know how to fix it, I know one thing I can do: write our soldiers there. Some of them even reply, and we correspond. That gets me on the field; it’s something. I’m not remotely resolving the quandaries over there, but I’m not ignoring them either. Not turning a blind eye as I order my coffee, as I live the life people are fighting and dying for.

In my notes to the soldiers, I tell them how much I appreciate what they’re doing. Wish them safety and a return home soon. One soldier wrote me back saying he’d never received mail before he got my letter. This I believe – it was worth the small bit of time and effort to write that card.

I believe in doing something even if it isn’t everything. I believe in meeting life’s challenges – personal or societal – head on and figuring out how to act. So I can’t cure my college friend’s cancer? The one who I’d stay up late night talking with, discussing how the world alternately scared and fascinated us. Well, I can contact her every week at least, sending thoughts of love and support.

I believe in fighting back bitterness or hopelessness. I learn all I can and determine some way to take action, even if it’s the equivalent of the most miniscule pin in a haystack. And who knows? At the right nexus of timing and opportunity, perhaps someday my actions will have a broader impact. But at a minimum, add positive energy to any situation on any day and you’ve done something. Show up. Get on the field. This I believe.