This I Believe

Kay - Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
Entered on June 10, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

This I believe

Kilgore Trout and I believe the same thing: it is “possible for a human being to believe anything, and to behave passionately in keeping with that belief – any belief.” He says this in Chapter 2 of Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.

By the way, I also believed that I personally discovered Kurt Vonnegut when I read Cat’s Cradle thirty years ago. The evidence to the contrary was substantial, foremost being the fact that I bought his novel in a major bookstore. I now know, as an author and publisher, that major bookstores are farther along the literary food chain than the point of discovery.

But a belief – any belief – isn’t always logical. In fact, some of the most pervasive and persuasive beliefs are fantastical, to say the least. My childhood was spent in a noisy household of five children, various pets and musical instruments, and a bevy of unclaimed neighborhood children. When unexpected silence broke out, my mother would look at her watch and say, “It always gets quiet at 20 to or 20 after the hour.” Where this belief came from, I don’t know. I do know she only announced unexpected silence when it happened at those times. These many years later, I check my watch at surprisingly quiet moments.

I also believe that the more fantastical the belief, the more passionate the behavior. After all, when logic fails, all that is left is passion. That may be why Kilgore Trout said the word “any” in italics.

Star Trek, the TV series, came into my parents’ living room on the color set they inherited from my grandparents. We never seemed to be able to balance the greens and reds, but we were thrilled to have the option. I loved Star Trek. I read the book The Making of Star Trek. I thought it was clever that they used salt-and-pepper shakers to represent medical instruments. After high school, I moved on to other interests.

Other fans have become “trekkies”. They take on the personae of inter-galactic characters, complete with costumes and make-up and voice imitations. They go to conferences together and behave passionately.

I believe people need beliefs. We need them to guide, to reassure, to fantasize, to justify, and to have a reason to behave passionately. And beliefs generate social connections.

Kilgore Trout agrees with me as well: having a friend with any belief seems to be more important than having no friends at all. Sadly, some beliefs are not as harmless as wearing latex pointy ears and greeting people with separated fingers. They are more about “kill” and “gore” than about “trout”, the ancient sign of physical and spiritual sustenance.

My father believed that no one falls in with a bad crowd. They are the bad crowd. He said “are” in italics.

Despite evil beliefs, I still believe in believing, hoping for some reason as a guide. However, I believe “some” is in italics.

Kay S. Hooper

1003 Orange St.

Selinsgrove, PA 17870

(570) 374-9839