This I Believe

Mary - Covington, Kentucky
Entered on April 9, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: humanism

Mother’s Conspiracy Theories

My mother is a relative pessimist, not a person fearing the ever looming doomsday, but a woman who truly believes we are already knee deep in it.

Growing up I suffered through many late summer nights watching public access documentaries on government and large corporation conspiracies. Her belief was that behind every politician is a puppeteer. America’s great tragedies were not tragedies as defined inherently; they were calculated schemes of the rich and powerful.

She believed that JFK’s assassination was something more sinister than the flawed plan of a deranged man named Oswald. She believed that HIV was introduced to the public by the Big Whig pharmaceutical companies to exploit America’s mal-informed youth by making a quick buck off treatment.

Her stories were illuminating; spun from some great loom of deeper knowledge, secrets that the public out there would never be privy to. As a child her theories questioned our purpose, my fruitless effort to survive in a clandestine society.

I spent my adolescence scoffing at teachers and their attempt to school me on the judicial process. In the ninth grade I devoured Animal Farm with insatiable eyes. What I failed to realize as a child was that my mother’s anecdotes weren’t only condemnations of Big Brother. What I erroneously gleaned from her stories was that humankind as a whole is evil and non-deserving of faith.

While at every dinner table my mother is the killjoy, she is also the Biggest Heart. Her stories are multi-faceted. With passion she speaks of oppressed nations, the destitute, and how much she loves them all. She was the first person to introduce me to NGO’s, foreign policy, and freedom of speech. She is a practical hippie. We share enthusiasm over what can be done to help Sudanese children bear chilly nights (send blankets!) and how amazing the film The Constant Gardener is.

Recently, while debating if I should participate in a mission trip to Bogota, Colombia, to aide disadvantaged children, I had an epiphany. It has taken me twenty years to realize that what my mother really means to impress with her stories is that while the world can be crumbling around me, my actions are still significant. There is a morsel of decency is in all of us. In me. Her teachings have nurtured that morsel, and the seed has bloomed a true awareness in me. These days I call myself a humanist. I see myself surviving more auspiciously in a sometimes declining culture. I have the ability to make a difference. As Oscar Wilde once so eloquently put, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” This I believe.