This I Believe

Susan - Grand Isle, Vermont
Entered on March 30, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: children
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What DO I believe?

I have been listening to essays since this feature premiered on NPR. In every one I have heard, there is something that moves me or makes me say “I wish I had written that”. The fact that I feel I share some belief with everyone whose voice I have heard makes me ask myself — What DO I believe? Do I believe in so little that I can be swayed by everything that I hear and read? Or do I believe in so much that I cannot distill my general beliefs into an essential core?

After mulling over these questions, what I have decided is that I believe in the power of language — both written and spoken — to stimulate thought and reflection, thereby provoking discussion and ultimately generating conclusions. Further, I now realize that I have always believed in thought, reflection and discussion as the means to expand horizons for everyone, from very young children nto older adults.

I cannot imagine what it would be like not to think about another person’s opinions, actions and thoughts and then find where my opinions, actions and thoughts intersect with theirs. There are times when I know I have been cavalier with another way of thinking — always upon reflection I have understood that it is not my right to dismiss another opinion or thought so lightly. It is, rather, my responsibility to try to accept that difference, expanding my own mind to other possibilities.

When our children were young, my husband and I tried to make a concerted effort always to discuss matters with them and help them understand how to come to a decision, even with something as simple as whether to wear the blue shirt or the green shirt! Our goal was to make them thinkers, because we always realized that being able to think something through was much more valuable than just having the answer. Our children are both adults now, and they are both thoughtful and reflective. This has, of course, generated some lively discussions among us, because we frequently have differing points of view on a subject. But we listen, we think, we reflect and then we each reach a conclusion — many times very different from one another. In very simple terms, we agree to disagree.

I hope — no, I know — that language will always have the power to stimulate thought and reflection for me. And now I DO know what I believe — that I shall always keep my mind open to expansion, discussion and learning. Otherwise, I wouldn’t truly be me!

This I believe.