This I Believe

Rick - Springfield, Missouri
Entered on September 12, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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As I’ve listened to the essays’ on NPR I am compelled to put into concrete words my own beliefs. Only to discover that they are ever changing. Oh how I envy those who have the ability to squarely state their position: the religous person who puts their sole trust of the future in their God, the agnostic who unwaveringly beleives they are the captain of their fate, or the steadfast alpha-type whom boils it down to my way or the highway. Their minds must be at ease.

One reason for my fence-riding is the fact that I am a product of my enviroment, both nurture and nature. If Darwins’ theory is correct then I must change. Thus I look to the past for clues to my current predicament.

I remember my cousin, 12 years my senior, living with our grandparents on weekends when he was home from college. He aggravated me incessantly and vice versa I’m sure. But once he did let me fire his military issue rifle. I tagged along to look at the target only to find that one errant bullet had missed the paper target and had torn through a steel T-post in the fence. Which up until then I thought were indestructible. So to I thought of my cousin until two months after leaving for Southeast Asia he was brought home.

Later in high school while learning how to judge livestock, I was taught the proper method of giving oral reasons for my placements. It was always best to concede some fault, no matter how slight, in the superior animal and to grant some strength to the second and third place animals. There was indeed no perfect beast.

Next came college and moral philosophy class. I can still see the professor facing us from the front of the classroom. He held a bright red apple in his outstretched arm between his thumb and fingers. He asked,”How many of you would be willing to eat this apple?” Everyone raised their hand, myself included, naive to the ways of western philosophy. He promptly turned the apple 180 degrees to show us the rotten, worm infested backside of the apple.

Thus was born my belief that tha world is ever changing and things are never quite what they seem. That there are exceptions and deviations from the norm. Some once told me; don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see. Perhaps a bit extreme for sage advice but worth noting. A strongly held belief may bring comfort and peace of mind to the individual, and if held by the masses may become engrained in public policy. But to hold on to a belief too strong or too long, is to hold on to a past that is unsustainable. It brings about dissension and antagonism.

Thus my belief is that change , in every form, is inevitable. No matter the glacial pace at which it might occur. That we all must bend to the wind or break, even the mighty oak. This philosophy allows me the freedom to not be mired in the muddy history of the past. To live in the present and look relentlessly to the future.