This month at Connect Shore, we are exploring the concept of “Belief,” so I got the idea to write my own “This I believe…” essay, like the ones that aired on Edward R. Murrow’s radio program in the 1950’s, or the modern ones they played on NPR. It is a beautiful action, I think, to fearlessly state your most personal values, the ones that guide your life and decisions.
Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten too far.
My friend Madelene helped me distinguish the difference between belief and knowledge in her reflection last week. Starting from there, I asked myself, “what beliefs am I really sure about?” There are many things that I once held to be true, that I now doubt (mostly in the realm of personal relationships). And there are many things that I am still on the fence about (e.g. religion and politics). But, finally, I was able to come up with a few short statements. I tried to be concrete, and to steer clear of cliches unless they were especially true for me. But, cynical readers beware. This post could be described as “earnest” at best, “soapboxing” at its worst :
1. I believe that children need to be given the space and opportunity to create their own ideas. I feel like I am at my best as a mom when I am facilitating learning and exploring experiences, whether it is at the dining room table or hiking through the woods.
2. I believe that gazing out at water is good for the soul. Oceans, lakes, ponds, wetlands…they all work magic.
3. I believe that we should reduce waste and conserve natural resources. I really do. But I fall so short in my efforts! I recycle well, but I am inconsistent at composting. I have reusable bags, but I often forget to take them to the grocery store. I failed at cloth diapers. I buy local, organic produce from a co-op, but I don’t grow my own. I turn off the lights and use the heat and AC sparingly, but I drive to work. I believe I can do better.
4. I believe that my child is better off because he is in daycare. He benefits greatly from both the structured environment and social interactions. He is learning so much about sharing, community living, and independence. Plus, my parenting improves thanks to the wise advice I receive from an amazing, practical caregiver with 20+ years of experience. I would never claim that this is the best option for everyone, but I believe that it was the best choice for my family.
5. I believe that experiences and time are more important than stuff if you want to live a happy life. As a kid watching The Price is Right, I always wondered why the contestants were more excited about a new car than a trip to Europe. Now, as an adult, I better understand the comfort of material security — you have to be able to pay your bills, put food on the table, etc. But, I still believe that taking the time to educate yourself and to have fun should be high priorities.
This list is nothing more than a start, and it was much harder than I thought it would be to pin down even five beliefs. In the future, I hope to tease these out (maybe there’s a true “This I believe…” essay in here somewhere), and add to them. Maybe this disparate list will even turn into a cohesive value system someday.
What would your list look like? What do you believe?