This I Believe

Annie - Ladera Ranch, California
Entered on July 2, 2007

I believe in something—that’s right, something. I know most of you are thinking that this is a cop-out, a lame excuse to forgo identifying my core beliefs. Well, you are wrong. I love to meet people who believe in something. And by “believe”, I do not mean that they claim to have conviction. I am talking about those people whose lives are living proof of their claims. If you tell me you believe in abolishing poverty in third world countries, you gosh darned better be working towards that goal with more fervor than you have while power walking the mall to look for the newest superfluous things you simply, must have. By believe, I mean do. If you believe in relieving the poor of that burden, then do it—not all of it mind you, but as much as you can. I personally don’t believe in it. I want to, but it seems that I don’t. I wish I did, but I couldn’t possibly; that would mean giving of myself, something that I’m not yet prepared to believe in. So, let us all live out our beliefs. I believe that my convictions are objective truth—if you really believe something, then you ought to feel the same way concerning your beliefs—but I would rather meet one-hundred people who are diametrically opposed to my convictions and have legitimate reasons why than meet one person who concurs with what I say but has no idea why. However, in extreme cases, such as Osama Bin Laden and Hitler, I would probably retract this statement on the grounds that I am no longer speaking with a sane person. Please, not only live out your beliefs but know the beliefs for which you live.

In my short seventeen years, I have discovered, quite painfully at some points, that even a misguided belief with a good argument behind it often trumps the so called “impenetrable” case of a person who cannot make that case. Let’s all be fair and give each other respect by not wasting another person’s time arguing a position that we know little to nothing about.

Knowing what I believe is only the beginning. Often, in searching out the root of my beliefs, I realize that what I say I believe is not necessarily what I do believe. I say I believe in the power of prayer, but do I? If I truly realized the immensity of that truth claim, then I would probably find myself on my knees a lot more often—in a manifestation of my belief. Action follows belief. In my case, I know the right thing to believe, and yet the action is lacking, and it is obvious that the belief has not yet taken hold of me. If I cannot life it, then I do not believe it.

Living for your beliefs is being honest; it’s not pretending that you have convictions without understanding their implications. Saying that I believe in the power of prayer also implies that I have witnessed its immense power because of the way I daily see the blessing involved in a life spend saturated in fervent prayer. But I haven’t. I have seen the results in others’ lives. I have smattered my life with prayer yet have never fully realized the potential of this belief if it were to be lived out as it was meant to be. This honest approach has given me a better starting point, a humble one, from which to approach a person unhypocritically in conversations that may end up altering either party’s beliefs.

When two people come to the table with their own, well defined positions, it makes for an intellectual battle that is much more efficient and rewarding than the conversation that occurs between two people who really have no serious convictions but merely wish to have this type of conversation because it is the thing to do these days. The former conversation results in an exchange of wisdom, and the latter leaves those involved much more confused than when the conversation began.

So if you are planning on entering into one of these conversations any time soon, please believe in something, really believe it. This is something I believe. I believe in something.