This I Believe

Ronald - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Entered on August 8, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: love
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in innocence. Not just for some, but for all, though only a few years ago I could never have said this.

It changed for me the night I spoke at a group home for teenaged boys. I had a clear plan for what they needed to hear, but at the last minute a quiet voice spoke from within me. I refused the message twice in a ten minute period, but capitulated when the voice whispered for the third time.

A few moments later, surrounded by fifteen troubled youth aged fourteen to seventeen, I said exactly what I heard. “You’ve been told you are bad and have done wrong.” I paused and scanned their faces. “You’ve been misled. You’re innocent, and I love you. You’re innocent, and I love you. You’re innocent, and I love you.”

It became very, very quiet. We began to share our stories. At the end of each, I studied the young man who spoke and announced, “You are innocent, and I love you.”

An hour later, the room was filled with crying young men, and me, a crying middle aged man. Something happened that night that changed lives.

As I travel and speak in a wide variety of settings, on occasions that seem right, that is the message I carry. Not one person anywhere awakens in the morning and aspires to less than what they think is their highest expression. On any given day I may be depressed, delusional or disturbed. I may not see the world or others accurately. But no matter what results, it is never because I aspire to anything less than what I believe to be my greatest expression. No exceptions. I’m innocent, and so are you.

On Mother’s Day 2006, I spoke in a Unitarian Church in Bellingham, Washington. In the middle of the lesson, I was moved to thank the mothers who were present as proxy for my mom who had died before our relationship could be healed.

After the service, an older woman approached me. She spoke softly, “I’m clairvoyant and an empath. I heard from your mother today during the service.”

“Really,” I replied with some skepticism and curiosity. “What did she say?”

Her eyes glimmered as she smiled. “She says, ‘You’re innocent, and she loves you.’”

I wept. Somehow, an old wound healed.

You’re innocent, and I love you.