This I Believe

debbie - Winter Park, Florida
Entered on July 27, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

This i believe

i believe in “bearing witness” to the bittersweet nature of life. Both joy and sorrow bring tears which i often hold back. Perhaps this is the impetus for a wise friend to define me as melancholy, and give me the nickname ‘mellie belle.’

As i complain about the heat and humidity of summer in Florida on my two-block walk to the neighborhood lunch joint, i sit with a friend enjoying a delicious gourmet salad. i hum when food is good, but stop as i witness a young man, 20- something, traversing the small space of the diner. He maneuvers the “all too tight” line of hungry diners who will not budge. All he wants is a cup of water but his awkward movements and severe muscular dystrophy make such a walk difficult. No one looks up at him. The salad i’m eating tastes different.

i suspect the ‘conventional news media’ believes it bears witness to events as they play out around the world. Yet, NPR was the only media to play the “bleeped” words of our president who swore and chewed with a full mouth as he talked with him “home-boy.” If we relied on ‘conventional news’ to bear witness, we would have a sanitized, middle-of-the-road sound-bite on events. NPR bears witness when Terry Gross asks the difficult questions. Scott Simon bears witness when he spontaneously laughs at the odd answer from a guest on Saturday mornings. Thus, with NPR there is a need for “driveway moments.” At these times we bear witness together. i do not remember a time the ‘conventional news’ kept my interest, nor bore witness to all of the story.

Bearing witness takes courage and humility. To look the disenfranchised in the eye is to acknowledge that marginalized part of the self which is a mirror image of the Divine. It is the kind of courage it takes to ask the risky questions. To look away is a denial of the bittersweet life that was created. To look away is an act of fear so often chosen by the religious right. i believe our very ground of being is at stake when we forsake looking at ourselves and others in the eye — long …. honest…. lovingly…… and, respectfully looking at ourselves. This is what i believe with tears in my eyes and love in my heart.