I was raised in a military family. I have traveled across America and the world over. During my travels, I have witnessed societies where there is no God, freedom is something that individuals cannot hope to have, and cultures with values different from my own do not enjoy the same liberties and economic prosperity that I enjoy as an American. Regardless of where I lived, I saw that it was American values that enable people to live there lives with social purpose, in happiness and for personal fulfillment. I have come to believe that decisions, made each day, are based upon the set of values that I hold, American values, based upon common beliefs and commitments to some level of ethical behavior. I have come to believe that how I live my life is of greater importance than my own individual achievements.
I am an American. I value a higher power, one greater than myself. I value freedom; freedom to choose, freedom to move, freedom to fail and freedom to succeed, freedom to create, express, and communicate those beliefs, which are my own. I value family. Lastly I value those individual characteristics that modern societies consider good.
I value God. I believe there is a God. My body will wither, and my soul will never die. To support this belief I turn to Christian, Islamic and Buddhist writings; “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life” (John 6:47). “And Allah does not respite a soul when its appointed term has come, and Allah is Aware of what you do” (Koran 63.11). [After death], some are reborn in the womb; evildoers are born in hell; those who commit meritorious deeds go to heaven; and those who are free from worldly desires realize nirvana (CANTO VII, The Holy One, 126).
I value Freedom. Without freedom I am living another’s beliefs; under some one else’s ethical standards, not my own. Unconditional freedom is the exercise of individual action without the regard to the consequences of those actions to oneself, others, or the world in which they live. Conditional freedom is exercised within boundaries and constraints; those boundaries and constraints that guarantee that freedoms expressed do not deny the freedoms of others. American freedom is conditional. America is a country whose first covenant is the rule of law. The rule of law is there to guarantee individuals their rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness while at the same time protecting society as a whole.
I value Family. I believe we are obligated to one another; our immediate family is our first priority, our extended family is next. Family extends beyond our home, our community, our Nation and extends to all human kind.
I value honesty, integrity, and truth. I believe that without courage, candor, communication, commitment, and cooperation there can only be conflict, crisis, chaos, cowardice, and calamity.
I believe in America. I believe each of us has the obligation to exercise our individual responsibility to preserve the American way of life with determined resolve. I believe that without personal sacrifice future generations will not experience the freedoms and economic prosperity that we as a nation are privileged to enjoy today.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.