Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This I Believe

(Photo: Edward R. Murrow in his office, 1957; from Wikipedia)

This I Believe was originally a 5-minute radio segment hosted by Edward R. Murrow from 1951 to 1955. It was revived in 2005 and 2007. I have previously posted a link to Robert Heinlein's This I Believe segment "Our Noble, Essential Decency" from 1952. I don't want to talk about Gilly in the past tense. I want to look forward. Gilly inspires me to blog, because...

This I Believe

I believe that I am tolerant. Others may believe differently from me and it is their right to do so. Each person’s right to believe and act according to their understanding of the world is limited primarily by any negative effect those beliefs and actions have upon the rights of others.

I believe that there is truth and falsehood and that truth is better. There are legitimate arguments on some issues, but "shape of Earth: views differ" is just stupid. Mindless two-valued examination of issues is just as foolish as mindless acceptance of a single worldview. The capacity to examine a heretofore unconsidered problem and make a reasonable decision as to best action is a critical skill. It has been a critical skill in the past, it is a critical skill now, and it will remain a critical skill in the future.

I believe that we make sacrifices in order to be part of a larger group: our right to freedom must be tempered by the rights of others. Our contribution to the group is made according to our abilities and capacities; our right to assistance from the group is according to our need. I believe that homo sapiens is naturally a collective beast -- that we function to our best potential in groups -- and that forcing us into individual competition is against our best interest as a species and as individuals.

I believe that the United States is so strong and vital that its primary existential threats are internal. With the exception of systemic ecological failure, all existential threats to the republic are self-inflicted -- modification of our core values until we are unrecognizable. I believe that in the last 30 years we have walked farther down this road away from our core values then at any other time in our history. And I believe that if we do not change course, America as it was could disappear within this century.

I believe, like Robert Heinlein, in Rodger Young. I believe that the willingness of our citizenry to sacrifice is one of our greatest strengths, which has been sadly underutilized since the 1960s. Throughout our short history, we have sacrificed for natural disasters, during wars, depressions, famines and floods. We have split up what little we had when those with less came along. When times are hard, we pull together.

I believe in science. The quest for knowledge is a sacred quest, a transformative Hero’s Journey into the secrets of the universe. Knowledge is power, but I believe it must be moderated by the wisdom to distinguish between the statements “we can” and “we should”.

I believe in the ineffable. I believe in the deep blue of sky and ocean, the deep green of grass and leaves, the red of sunrise and sunset, the silver light of moon and stars, and the velvet black of moonless night or unlit cavern. I believe in questions without ultimate answers, like “What is the Meaning of Life?”, “Why are we here?”, and “Where is Everybody?”.

I believe that if the people will lead the leaders will follow -- but only if there's no other option.

Finally, I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of my fellow humans. I believe that we have enormous capacity for good if we allow it to develop. I believe that we have tremendous capacity for evil if we fail to take care of each other and treat each other with respect. I believe that tolerance of others’ thoughts and behaviours is the signature hallmark of humanity, and that there’s too little of that tolerance in the world today.