This I Believe

Chuck - Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Entered on February 16, 2007

Every Day a Choice

I believe in wearing a smile every day. I believe I should try to make other people’s lives better every day. I’ve put aside national, ethnic, and religious conceits, believing that people are all the same and on this journey of life together. And together, humanity will prosper or perish. I didn’t come to these beliefs quickly or easily.

My first journey took me to Mackinac Island, Michigan, where I became part of a youth variety show called Up With People. Every day was an adventure as we traveled across the country performing, and then crossing the Pacific to perform in Japan, and later Korea. At age 17, I learned how kind people can be and how similar we all are. I also learned that religion and morality bear no relation to one another. Frequently, those who most loudly espoused an abiding faith had no such dedication to the Golden Rule. I believe in the Golden Rule.

After a brief stay at the College of William & Mary, I joined the Army at the height of the Vietnam War, much to my parents’ horror. Before long I realized how important listening to parents can be. I believe in listening to parents.

Fortunately, luck, and some preliminary tests, took me to the discipline of West Point. My seminal experience was not with Chaplain Ford, who later became Chaplain to Congress, but rather with the fine instructor of philosophy survey course who forced me to challenge assertions and think critically about the values and issues of our day in the context of the Enlightenment. That young instructor gave me the light to make better choices for the rest of my life. I believe in the unfettered exchange of ideas.

I’m very proud of having raised three contributive children since then. This accomplishment is the real success story of my life. I believe our children are the future. I believe we cannot fail to educate them well.

I believe I must bring people together to finding areas of agreement. I seek the rational processes that will improve the human condition in a world where so many are in need. Non-profit organizations consume more and more of my time. I believe I must give back, having received so much, and go forward with hope for the future. I believe hope and love combine to propel humanity forward.

I believe in that capacity for love that is in all people. Every day I make the choice to be happy and to love through deed. I never regret the choice.