This I Believe

Susan - Anchorage, Alaska
Entered on January 31, 2007

I believe in freedom. I am the child of American parents and grew up in Iraq in the 1950’s. I spent two years in a public school in England and then moved to New Jersey and lived there until I graduated from college. I was a teenager and young adult during the Civil Rights and Vietnam eras and during that time became aware of protests. In the 70’s and 80’s I participated in marches, conferences and rallies for women’s and lesbian rights. These events formed my belief in freedom to be who you are. I believe in the freedom to live as you wish and to be free to live your life without interference from others, to speak out for your beliefs and to allow others the same right.

As someone who had an illegal abortion in the 1960’s I believe freedom means the right to determine your own life path, the right to decide when and if you will have children. I believe freedom means you have the right to control your own body.

As a lesbian who came out in the mid-70’s I believe in the freedom to love whom you want without regard to gender, race, class, ethnic origin or any other descriptor that confines your ability to love.

As an agnostic, I believe in the freedom to worship or not worship as you wish. I believe in freedom that allows for differences in our beliefs and the right to express those beliefs. I believe in the freedom to speak your own truth and to hear others’ truths.

Having grown up in a foreign country and hearing about the McCarthy Era after moving to the U.S., I believe in the freedom to speak out on issues of national interest without fear of investigation or fear of reprisals. I believe freedom means living in a country that allows more than one side to an issue and allows for differing views. I believe freedom encourages discourse.

My mother and her two sisters independently of each other wrote the same quote in my autograph book when I was a young girl: “This above all to thine own self be true” – Polonius to Laertes in Hamlet. This is how I have tried to live my life. I believe in the freedom to be who I am.