I believe in the value of kindness and in the value of respect. This often goes hand in hand. The opposite of kindness and respect can be seen in society at all levels. This I believe to be troubling signs of neglect for our identity as human beings sharing a common planet with a common destiny. For I believe when we see ourselves from afar we see ourselves a float on a small speck of the universe. The fear of being on a voyage alone in this enormity should frighten us. Frighten us enough to want to grab at all possible sources of strength. Strength can come in numbers. If we share a common goal and destiny then we work for a common good. If we share a common good we share a common bond and we dare not sever that bond. Our common bond needs to be strengthened. All of us know that aloofness, arrogance, ignorance and ethnocentricity (the fear of others) and all the emotions that stem from there fray this bond. We push away each other, we believe in boundaries and turfs that appear to me to be barriers and walls designed to keep out. Small random acts of kindness and jest are not part of most everyday repertoires because as a society we have shunned them for a mistaken sense of privacy and intrusion.
I believe in programs like ‘This I believe’ because it encourages us to breakdown the very barriers we have constructed and encourages dialogue. One might ask why I should engage in dialogue with you, a stranger. What can you teach me? Do you have wisdom? My answer is I might not have much to offer of interest but then again I might. Do you know I am a physician, my wife is a physician but we have shared the pain of a daughter sick for almost a year struggling for life. We have three children, beautiful smart great kids but one is deaf blind and I have learned to adjust my expectations from life. I have negotiated with God and not walked away with anything but a little more patience. I have been a good and sometimes not so good spouse, son, brother, friend. Maybe you have been challenged in your relationships and my experiences will help strengthen your resolve. I have turned off a ventilator for a parent and lived and cared for another. Maybe you want to talk to me as an immigrant. I have been both rich and poor. I have given up on dreams and gone back to dream them again. Enron got me; did you ever loose money on a false hope or a foolish misstep? Are you frustrated with the bleakness of the future of the environment or the economy? I am. Come speak to me. I am the stranger you pass by when you leave your home. My experiences are the unique experiences of one stranger that is speaking to you through the lines of this essay. You may speak to as many strangers as you pass by and learn as many commonalities. You only have to stop and exchange some pleasantries. Maybe you will never say more to each other but maybe you will get to unburden on them and maybe they will unburden on you. Every which way the burden is lighter and the bond is stronger. The world never before was so vulnerable and never before presented such opportunities. The electronic media reaches us all. Simple messages like mine may touch and influence more than ever before. I believe in dialogue, I believe in common destiny, I believe in you stranger, fellow human being, my future friend. You will make this planet a better place. You will find the answers to what troubles us all. Your pain is my burden and your unburdening my responsibility. I believe in us, in you and me, both strangers with a common bond and a common destiny.
To you, to our children we must teach the value of humanity. If we trust in the future we must trust in each other. We must strengthen the common bond. This I believe.