This I Believe

Julie - Morrisville, North Carolina
Entered on September 1, 2006

Lately news from Iraq and around the world has inspired me to think about the connection between political principles and human relations. Specifically, in today’s news President Bush has made a case for war against Iraq on ideological grounds, comparing current terrorists to past despots and hate mongers such as Hitler in Nazi Germany. This is the role of a president: to personify the principles and values we live by and defend our way of life.

Yet when I see the destruction, conflict, and hate in the world, I cannot help but think how we have allowed our principles to become more important than people.

When we stop caring about each other as human beings because of ideological differences, that’s when the real danger begins. Us against them, good against evil—this kind of either/or thinking lacks imagination and creates further division and strife in a world where, I believe, what we really need is compassion, caring, and forgiveness.

We talk night and day about security and have all kinds of gadgets to scan each other at airports, public buildings, libraries. But I believe security is a feeling, not a policy, and it comes from genuine interpersonal relationships and networks of communities where human beings care—really care—about the uplift of all citizens just because we are, and not excluding people because they are from a red state or blue state or because they are gay or lesbian or Mexican or Islamic or different in any other way. I believe we need everybody, and that when we include everybody people, begin to reach past their own limited backgrounds and see past differences to offer a hand to those in need. Katrina was a wake up call because it showed us how numb we are to each other, how much we have forgotten about human decency. Americans knew how to be decent to one another during the depression years and WWII. President Roosevelt set a tone of genuine caring and saw to it that people had food on the table, regardless of their ideologies or religious affiliations. He seemed to feel, in a human way, what it might be like to feel hungry or discouraged, and he used his position to help people back on their feet. It seems, as a nation, we have forgotten that history lesson.

People are always more important than principles. My name is Julie XX, and this I believe.