About “This I Believe”:
During the 1950′s Edward R. Murrow hosted a radio program called, “This I Believe.” Each day, listeners were treated to essays from famous Americans like Helen Keller, Jackie Robinson, or Eleanor Roosevelt. Today, This I Believe, Inc., continues this tradition as an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. After spending many hours listening and reading these essays, I felt like writing my own. This is that essay.
I believe in love. Of course, over the span of my thirty one years of life, I have assembled an ever growing patchwork of beliefs. Many were instilled in me as a child, while others came to me through the joy and heartbreak of adulthood, but the foundation for each, my compass, sextant and North Star, has always been love.
I believe in the inherent goodness and decency of people, and that the sums of all our actions are either a declaration of love, or a cry for love. Declarations themselves are most beautiful in their simplicity: teaching a child to read; calling up loose change for a man begging on the street; a kiss; a caress; a hug. There is a love story told in the minutia of returning a friend’s library books, petting a stray dog, or waving back to a child on the street.
I believe that the greatest lovers of all time are not found in the pages of a Bronte novel or in the lines of a Shakespearean play. Those who cling to their innate goodness, who work hard not to succumb to the fashionable apathy and indifference of the age, those who set aside all the frustrations and annoyances of a difficult life and still smile as they hold the elevator for you, they are greater than the greatest lovers ever imagined; Casanovas of the miniscule and unsexy.
I believe that every cry for love, and there are some very ugly cries out there, is an appeal to our better nature. Unkind words and actions arise from moments of pain when an otherwise rational individual is more akin to a wounded and feral animal. A cry for love is after all a cry of fear that love has left, will leave, or was never there. Answer these cries with courage, humility and compassion; we each of us have behaved like snared animals at one point or another, and we will again. Sometimes you’ll find that it is impossible to remain the presence of such displays, that it is necessary to walk away. Sometimes walking away is the greater act of love.
Lastly, I believe that love for one’s self is the greatest love of all. It is a love I have yet to fully master. All too often we allow cynicism and the concern of how others perceive us dictate our actions. We berate ourselves for each failure and rejection and fear that we are unworthy of the love we so desperately want. For me, to truly love myself the question can never be “What will other people think of me?” it must always be “What will I think of myself?”
The generous act of forgiving yourself for all your shortcomings, taking responsibility for your actions and finding the courage to laugh at your mistakes, is love without equal. Cherish your goodness and celebrate your strengths. Take extra care to guard against letting your ego slip into arrogance and vanity. You are greater than you know, and when you love wholly and fully, you will discover that the love you seek has always been there.
What do you believe in?
A different version of this article appeared in the iPinion Syndicate on April 15, 2012. I apologize for polishing up an older piece, but I’m in the middle of moving across the country [AGAIN] and don’t have a whole lot of time to write this week.