This I Believe

James - Northfield, Minnesota
Entered on March 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • 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.

What do I believe?

I believe that I don’t really believe in anything.

Of course I will admit that at this very moment I have a set of beliefs. I have beliefs regarding public policy, beliefs regarding religion, and even beliefs regarding other people’s beliefs. But I am not going to discuss any of these because I know that any of these current views that I hold could change given varying sets of circumstances. I am constantly being molded by the people around me, the propaganda I am subjected to and infinitely many other factors.

So what does this mean?

Does this mean that I am simply very easy to manipulate, forming no ideas on my own and unable to retain even these ideas stolen from others?

Someone with very stubbornly held beliefs (regarding politics, outlooks on life and especially religion) may think so. These people may say that I am simply being apathetic towards important issues, but that is not true. I form opinions that at any given time I am willing to defend. But I also know that everything I believe is not necessarily correct.

If what I believe can change at any moment, what is the point of this essay?

What do I really believe?

As an astute reader may have already observed, I believe in questions. Specifically, I believe in questioning even my own beliefs, which does not usually happen spontaneously. If it does occur, it usually takes something dramatic in someone’s life to stimulate this questioning. For instance, a good friend of mine came out as a homosexual a few years ago, something that was very difficult for his politically conservative father to handle. Eventually they worked it out, and his father’s beliefs regarding homosexuality were changed dramatically. My friend’s father was forced to question the beliefs that had been present in him for probably his entire life, and eventually these beliefs were changed due to the situation that had presented itself.

I do not blindly follow whatever I have been born into or told to believe, but instead I continually question and reevaluate my attitude towards every aspect of life. By keeping an open mind and questioning my own beliefs, I feel I am better able to understand the customs, values and beliefs of others.