“This I Believe”
As I approach my eighth (!) decade of living, I often find myself weary of the world. With all the turmoil, pain, suffering, greed, injustice, and incompetent politicians around the globe, I find myself becoming more aware of and reliant upon certain core values without which I doubt that I could find the will to cope. I want to share these values with you today, not so much for the purpose of self-expression, but rather, in the hope that you may receive a boost in your own strength for coping. I list them now roughly in their order of priority.
First, a sense of humor. Without humor and a goodly amount of laughter, I believe that life would be impenetrably dark. Not a day passes for me without abundant laughter. For example, with all this snow we’re being buried in, I’ve routinely been asking most of my acquaintances if they have been praying for snow, and if they have, would they please stop it! Humor is medicinal.
I believe that a positive attitude is essential to healthy living. Perception is reality. That proverbial glass of water filled to midline is either half empty or half full, not both. For me, it is half full, and further, I appreciate its slaking my thirst, which brings up my third core value, gratitude.
It is so easy to slip into the habit of envying others for what we think they have that we don’t have – money, beauty, social standing, and the like. One of the very few elements I treasure from my fundamentalist childhood is the hymn, “Count Your Blessings”. Its repetitious refrain “Count your blessings, name them one by one . . . Count your many blessings”, and so on, carries a powerful message. One’s blessings are there, in abundance, if one but perceives them. Remember, perception is reality. This I believe.
A fourth value is what the biologist Edward O. Wilson calls biophilia. He has argued that we humans need to affiliate with nature in order to be happy. The need is built into our very nature, and our modernity cannot erase it. It is why we go to parks, tend our flowerbeds, watch birds, or go on long distance hikes. I believe that I would lose my marbles if I were to be deprived of immersing myself in nature. I need that holy communion with trees and brooks, mountains and fresh air, in the same deep sense that I need food and sleep. Not a single day passes for me without spending some of the time mentally out on the AT. That is the truth.
Finally, none of these values would matter one whit without love. In the search for synonyms of Divinity, it’s been said over and over that God is love. I’m content with the four-letter word. The direct experience of love requires no speculative fictions about deity. Supplemented by humor, positive attitude, gratitude, and biophilia, love sustains me. This I not only believe. I know.
So be it.
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