This I Believe

Russell - Fayetteville, North Carolina
Entered on January 11, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I was raised in a small country town in a middle class family. My father was a first generation college graduate, thanks to the GI Bill, who owned a successful pharmacy and worked long hours. My mother, who had gone to college and even had her own radio program before she was married, was the PTA mom who taught Sunday School when her sons were small. Their sacrifice to provide a comfortable home environment also included a contract with their three sons to pay for us to go to college, which each son took advantage. The only string attached was for us to do it for our own children. Their example to work hard yet try to provide for future generations have always been a powerful message to me.

My father’s occupation in the medical field gave me an appreciation of science. Modern science has opened the heavens and allowed us to glimpse into the fundamental workings of the human body. Yet, is it OK to temporarily start a patient on a feeding tube to gain strength, but wrong to start life support as a long term measure to sustain someone who otherwise would not survive? I believe so, because I saw my grandmother suffer from that unnatural extension of her life. Is it OK to research in areas with their miraculous potential for treatments in so many fields, but wrong to harvest stem cells from certain sources? I believe so, because I can see the quality of my parents’ lives possibly improved by these areas of research, yet I can’t condone those sources to justify my selfish result.

I believe that reasonable people can disagree. Often, choices need to be made that are for the common good, but not good for all. Progress in so many fronts has been brought to a standstill by the closed mindedness and divisive thinking that seems to be sweeping all corners of our society. The “us against them” mentality is replacing true discourse in this country, where honest citizens used to be able to disagree and compromise for the common good somewhere in the middle. Gerald Ford’s passing reminded me of that era.

Because of my mother, I believe that the rights and privileges we enjoy in this country were allowed and blessed by Divine Intervention. I don’t believe that this makes me a zealot looking to squash the rights and privileges of other groups of people. The Divine presence that blesses this country raises boats of all faiths that believe a higher power is directing their lives. I believe that God, in his perfect vision for us, did not intend for us to argue the few points we differ on. We need to embrace the common ground that so many religions share. I can never believe that people of any faith could have ever understood God’s will instructed us to kill one another in His name or that blowing yourself up for heavenly reward was what He intended.