This I Believe

Thomas - El Paso, Texas
Entered on September 7, 2006

I believe in having strong beliefs but an open mind.

I believe there are always 2 sides to a story (at least). Too often we only hear partial truths. Too often we listen to other people who are not qualified to help us make decisions. We need to listen and discuss and consider before we act. We are quite good at the opposite as a society: we don’t listen; we don’t discuss; we make decisions without understanding,…then we debate about the action when it’s too late and when it’s already moving. And then nothing ever gets done.

I believe the freedom of speech protects and promotes this needed discussion, but it is sometimes contrary to the functioning of a democracy. The foundation of democracy is not in the freedom of speech but in the right to vote.

Vote for what you believe, but then respect the votes of others by supporting the majority–the democracy as a whole–even if you lose.

This is a simple formula: make sure you are heard when the time is for discussion, vote for representatives that support what you conclude is right, then support the decision of the majority—the decision of your democracy.

We are creating a society where nothing can get done even when the majority supports it because of individuals feeling that their opinion is too important, nay, even MORE important than another’s.

I believe Congress, not Hollywood, is where we should find our inspiration for what is right. The “drama” portrayed by Hollywood should be as funny a comedy to us as any sitcom. Why we listen to actors and musicians and models who are on stage to entertain us as they go on an on about their views of serious issues is sincerely funny. Why does anyone believe their opinion should count more than yours, when we are both entitled to only one vote?

I believe Congress members should be paid very well because their job is truly important for all of us. Of course, they shouldn’t make a penny from any other source—no kickbacks, earmarks, endorsements,…nothing—because they’re job is that important. While certain freedoms definitely impinge on one individual over another, bias is nothing short of buying votes and this deprives those who rely on their representatives.

These days, I believe if you are a politician that can convince me your primary interest isn’t the politics themselves, that I’ll vote for you almost no matter what you believe. I am tired of the endless see-saw and endless he said-she said that is not a check and balance system as intended but a mutant two headed beast that can’t even control its own body.

I believe the United Nations should be more important that it is, but I think the only way that will happen is if the leaders of each nation are its members and do not send powerless representatives. Let the leaders of the world democracy as we pretend it exists vote and be counted equally on a global level and see if that evens things out, but be prepared for serious sacrifices.

I believe we have alterior motives for many of our actions as a country. I think that’s ok. I think we are indeed fighting about oil in the middle East to some degree. But I believe this is necessary to sustain our national and personal interests. We shouldn’t be lying to ourselves or the world about it—or making movies with one of us shaming another over this “truth.” I believe if you don’t think we should be fighting for oil in any way that you should stop driving your car and and stop heating your house—at least until we find an alternative.

Even if we have alterior motives at times, I believe our intentions as a country are right.

I believe the world is different after September 11th . I believe we are at war with terrorism and on a global scale this is a noble cause. But the United States is wavering in our commitment and the world knows it, and that’s why nothing has changed for them after September 11th.

I believe that you are wasting your time arguing with religious fundamentalists of any nation or faith.

I believe that fighting is the last resort, but its an option. It’s strange that we have made so much progress in communication over the last 100 years and yet we don’t exploit this modern communication as aggressively as we rely on the lethal progress of our military.

The military is not a democracy. I believe the military is only a tool of the voters, and the voters have no right to criticize the military. I believe protesting at a soldier’s funeral is treason even if it is possible as a freedom of speech.

I believe security in the world is pointless without security at home.

I believe criminals deserve a second chance, but never a third. I believe all prisoners, no matter the crime, should prove to a parole board that they regret their crimes and plan to change before they are released if we are truly more interested in recidivism than in punishment.

I believe crimes against children, especially sexual crimes, should be punished with death. Why we are so passive with protecting our most valuable assets as individuals, as parents, and as a society is a national tragedy and ongoing embarrassment to the future.

I believe that choices have consequences and the right to free speech carries a much heavier responsibility than is expected or enforced. I believe journalists should be protected from prosecution in all cases but one—if they falsify or lie or hide the truth they should be punished as harshly as any criminal. Journalists are in a position of influence and a position of trust, but that position comes with personal and moral responsibility.

I believe in strong beliefs but keeping an open mind: try to understand that with which you don’t agree, try to work out differences and move forward instead of focusing on the differences themselves, and fight, when necessary, to protect the right to have different beliefs as if all of your own beliefs depended on it. Then vote for what you believe.