This I Believe

Julie - Valdosta, Georgia
Entered on July 12, 2007

I love the BBC TV series, “Connections,” with science historian James Burke. I am fascinated with this idea of making connections between seemingly isolated and independent events. It is an exercise that is infinitely expansive and an amazing way to gain insight into the human experience. In my journey through life, I have come to understand the power of connecting instead of dividing, finding commonalities instead of differences, building pathways instead of walls. Connecting is the antidote to the divisive world view that separates, categorizes, compartmentalizes, and specializes. I know that that system is effective as a method to study and learn, by taming the chaos of the universe. But it is not the only path to understanding. While specializing focuses energy on individual questions, it necessitates a wider view of how the individual pieces of the puzzle all fit together. This need is becoming more and more evident as humans finally come to terms with the consequences of our long disconnect with nature.

I experienced this widening of view myself back in college. I started out as an electrical engineering student, cramming for exams in computer engineering, physics, and abstract math, but never really internalizing the information. Somehow, I ended up with a B.A. in Philosophy. I had gone from the most narrow specialty to the widest field of study, where we looked at the body of human knowledge as a whole. That was also an exercise in making connections. I learned how underlying concepts affect how one perceives the world. Now, twenty years later, my personal philosophy seems to have crystallized. I have been inspired by Buckminster Fuller in Mexico; by Jung and Einstein in Z-rich; by Darwin, a four-day train ride, and an elegant essay about nomads by Robyn Davidson in Australia; by String Theory, with its tiny universes; by Kerouac, Vonnegut, Orwell; by the magic that happens at music festivals; by confluences of people, places, art, and nature… by connecting, in all senses of the word.

Thus, I have come to an understanding of an intelligent “higher power.” I believe this entity to be the synergistic sum of all of Humanity. That which makes us human – thoughts, memories, emotions, feelings, ideas – all of those inanimate essences, still undefined by science, the great mysteries of our minds and our souls – all join together to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. It is not otherworldly, rather interwoven with the forces of Nature, attached to Places, unbound by Western concepts of Time. I believe that when humans long for meaning, for comfort, for love, this is what we unknowingly reach out for. So while religions preach that the Divine is up in Heaven, we have been separating ourselves from ourselves and from planet Earth. To re-connect, I believe that one has only to engage with the flow of Humanity, to be curious about the world around us, to tune in to nature’s rhythms, and to truly care.