This I Believe

Michael - Beavercreek, Ohio
Entered on October 18, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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Brace yourself for the stupidest thing you’ll hear today, provided you haven’t watched any television. I Believe in Beliefs. More importantly, I Believe in everyone’s right to have their own beliefs. Call it what you will, independence, individuality, uniqueness, I’ll call it splunge, but when you come right down to it, It is fundamentally wrong to hinder another’s right to come to any crazy conclusion they see fit pertaining to anything at all.

This Belief in the cognitive rights of my peers, superiors, and lesser counterparts, came to me in a single conversation, which may or may not have actually taken place. I was speaking with a relative of mine, a person whom I respected, admired even. The topic of our chat was inexplicably shifted to roller coasters, and my enjoyment of them. My relative respectfully disagreed, but I persisted in my passionate rant on why there was nothing bad about the exhilarating rides. How long I went on, I don’t remember, but after a time, my relative lost patience with my trying to reassure him into liking something I did and he did not, and said things uncharacteristic of his usual self, in a tone I was frightened to hear him use.

In a brief flash of lucidity, I realized that, Who the hell was I to him what to like and not to like? Who was I to say he was wrong not to enjoy what I did, or not to think the way I thought? Why should I have any influence over the way he chooses to perceive things? I put myself in his place, looking a pompous jerk saying that what I found terrifying was actually fun, and that I was wring beyond a shadow of a doubt to believe what I did. To this day I am amazed that I walked away from that encounter with my face intact. I found out in that one brief moment of clarity immediately following a mistake that I hand no right to interfere with what others believed.

Voltaire is often quoted, “I disagree with what you are saying, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.” This quotation captures my entire essay in a single sentence, and stated my belief far more eloquently than I ever could have.

Due to the relative fragility of splunge in the world and my recent experience of stepping on other’s cognitive sovereignty, I have taken Voltaire’s words to heart. I regret that I have not come to this conclusion sooner, but now I can Definitively say: In Beliefs I Believe.