This I Believe

Annemieke - Gainesville, Florida
Entered on March 26, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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March 26, 2007

I believe that love and respect form the key to living life together.

Fifteen years ago I immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands. I was welcomed by the people in the community I arrived at. As a violinist I originally came to the United States, to learn about Bluegrass fiddling. Coming from a European culture and from the classical music scene, a new world opened itself for me in great magnitude. I did not expect the vast variety in fiddle styles and folk music embedded in a culture with a young but rich history. I was incredibly excited; however, I soon started noticing that unbeknownst to me I would step on many toes. My language – though with an accent – and my appearance seemed alike, yet the interpretation of my words and deeds at times were totally different than my intention. Over time I learned more about the culture and religions around me and as I am grateful for my roots, I am respectful of my neighbors.

Throughout my journey here, I found that the world is like a rich gauntlet of different cultures at the base of our diverse relationships. And I realize a lot of spiritual work is needed to not only have the relationships, but also to nurture them. I learned it is very difficult to always be open to ways that are different than one’s own. It seems easy to get angry and to draw conclusions in one’s own comfort zone of thinking; conclusions, based on our own cultural and religious roots. It seems easy to ridicule the other, if we do not understand or try to understand them. It is easy to think of our own needs and interests. I have witnessed that sense of self focus, without questioning. Though questioning my actions and my words may come natural to me, I also think it makes it harder to be with others. Without promoting self doubt I believe that questioning in a healthy way can be a base for inner growth and for more found love and respect. In my relationships I have witnessed a relief of tension the more I practice taking time to include where it is the other is coming from.

My (Unitarian Universalist) faith affirms my path of questioning. Questioning my faith is part of a spiritual practice that helps me learn to deal better with all relationships: The relationship with self, others and with God or however one might relate to what is between us and with us. I believe that wherever I seek, I find love and respect within the answer of my question.

I believe that violence and wars find their cause at a lack of understanding and a lack of opening ourselves up to the possibilities of different ways and different beliefs. I believe that this is where love and respect enter.

I believe that love and respect can help us listen to each other and will help us hear each other in ways that may lead to a better shared existence, with less violence and towards the goal of peace. And I realize how incredibly hard that is. I believe though that if we were educated in these base principles and not just on Sundays, we might have the key to what could help us, at the home, with our neighbors, in our communities and in the wider world.