This I Believe

Raymond - Half Moon Bay, California
Entered on December 30, 2006
Age Group: 65+

I believe in Absolute Truth. For every event in life, there is a core truth. What actually happened, who said what and to whom, why it happened, are questions that we fight wars over. I believe that I have been given life in order to seek Truth and that any enlightenment I may gain should be passed on to others. So what have I learned?

There are small truths and big truths, small lies and big lies. My own lies, even ones that nobody but God knows about, have haunted me for decades. As one wise minister said, “Yes, the Lord forgives your sins, but the scars remain.” Regrets pop up when I’m feeling smug and self important, God’s way of keeping me alert.

My Dad was fanatic about truth-telling. His word was gold and he expected the same standards from us who bore his name. I recall as a teenager finding in a box that my Dad was keeping for a friend, a bellows-type Kodak camera with a fine lens. We were poor and I never owned a camera so I coveted it, squirreling it away in a hiding place. Within a day I realized there was no way I could possibly use it so I returned it. But in adult life, beyond the watchful parents, I learned that temptations were larger and had to be overcome anew. I made mistakes, had narrow escapes, collected scars and learned.

My childhood dream was not just to make a living but contribute to more enlightenment, more human progress, more peaceful solutions and friendship among nations. But my entire life has been overshadowed by war, starting with WWII. When I first reported for work as an engineer in Defense Research, the very first week the Russians launched Sputnik, and we watched it pass overhead in the cold spring sky and were afraid. And as the ICBM’s began to be launched so we knew we could be snuffed out in one horrific blast launched from half a world away by mad geniuses, I had nightmares fearing for my young wife and child.

I’ve learned that all wars involve lying and deception on a grand scale by elected and appointed officials, supported by business interests, to the drumbeat of purchased media and think-tanks. I’ve learned that I have blood on my own hands by what they do in my name.

So in spite of wonderful technological gains, I see no progress addressing the problems of humankind. We live in incredible luxury, send mere boys off to kill on our behalf to “protect our way of life”, while a billion people don’t have enough to eat and 30,000 die every day, dwarfing the human toll even of wars. So my childish dream goes unfulfilled. What then do I tell my children and grandchildren?

I can only tell them this: Passionately seek Truth, speak boldly against lies and error, and dare to look deeply into the faces of the hurting peoples of the world.