This I Believe

Peter - Port Jervis, New York
Entered on October 8, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe that public service is noble. I don’t mean the kind of public service where someone serves in an administration for two years and then says I have to go out and make up for my financial sacrifice. But the kind of service that comes from a lifetime of work, such as in my case, as a public historian at a regional historical society. I believe that giving yourself to a cause larger than yourself and of yourself over a lifetime is one of the most profound things that one can do with their life. I believe making a lot of money is not as valuable as saving a community’s fabric or helping to make it a better community. While we all need money to survive and pay our bills, there is still something that touches my deepest values when someone comes up to me once a month and says, “Thanks for saving our community’s history.” This I Believe.

I believe that preserving our history, whether it be local, regional, state or national is important and worthy of a life’s work. It is often said, perhaps too many times, that those who do not listen to history are doomed to repeat it. And that is true. But it is also true that history has much to teach us, there are lessons learned long ago that are still relevant to us today. It is worth knowing where our ancestors have come from, how their struggles have made for a better society today. It is worth remembering with historic sites, museums, parks and interpretive displays about the architectural styles of times gone by, techniques for living in worlds that are far different from our own, photographs that capture a moment and reading intimate letters that reveal how much we are all still alike even after millenniums.

I believe that many of the world’s great religions, when stripped of their structural and theological edifices are all headed in the same direction – charity, love, and hope – and that so many of the world’s problems and heartbreak come from these edifices that have taken the original prophet’s dreams and distorted them for political or corrupt and immoral purposes. I believe that when the leaders of those faiths just talk about those ideals and do not really promote them, they have strayed from the course.

I believe that we should all aspire to live honorably and while we do not always get there, we should really try. We live in a time when politicians, leaders, and prominent people say things like this but never really get there. Their lives often do not reflect their spoken values. We need to be like the person in our town, whom we all know and respect and say “He (or she) lives his (or her) life with honor – whether they be a veteran, minister, bricklayer or dishwasher.” Because more likely than not, these people, out of the glare of the media, are doing noble things day in and day out. This I believe.