What is your core belief?

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I just finished an inspirational 2008 book called “This I Believe II,” the print version of an oral philosophy series that aired on National Public Radio. He caught my eye one day, looking from a small free library along my way through town.

“This I Believe” was originally a series aired by radio legend Edward R. Murrow in the 1950s. Around the turn of the millennium, Jay Allison and Dan Gediman resurrected the idea. In the introduction to the book, Allison wrote, “How would you say in 500 words to capture a fundamental principle that guides your life? Can you name a belief that underlies your actions? In the discovered truths of your experience, what remains?

The book contains 75 short essays, from the unknown to the famous, from high school students to Nobel laureates. You can read more at thisibelieve.org, but I thought, given the disheartening times we are living in, that you might enjoy, or even be inspired by, a selection of “I believe” statements from a wide range of life experiences. Here are as many as I could fit:

I believe in fighting fear. … I believe it is fear that we should fight, not “the other”.
Terry Ahwal

I believe there is magic in Christmas and the music that celebrates it, because it brings us closer and closer to our own hearts.
Steve Banko

I believe in strange blessings, because taking my home away from me brought me home.
Robin Baudier
Hurricane Katrina Survivor

I believe in semi-permanent hair dye: the kind that lets you have a few wacky weeks during the depressing winter months. Semi-permanent hair color is about finding security in unlimited freedom.
Amelia Baxter-Stoltzfus

I believe that the same depressions that so often knock me to the mat also serve a greater purpose in my life. I believe that the purpose of suffering is to strengthen us and help us understand the suffering of others.
Andy Blowers

I believe in improvisation. It’s exciting; it’s an adventure, a challenge and a chance to be creative. … I believe there is no one way to do things. The way that works for me is the way that works right now. But that could change tomorrow.
Alice Broc
from Alice’s restaurant

I believe in sticking my nose into other people’s business. … I think it’s time I started sticking my nose in, not just my neighbors’ business, but the world’s business. …I helped kill that kid, like everyone else, in the name of minding my own business.
Brigitte Brockway

I believe in the power of failure. Success is boring. …First-hit success is usually a fluke. A first failure, on the other hand, is expected; it is the natural order of things. Failure is how we learn.
Jon Carroll

I believe that memory is never lost, even when it seems to be, because it has more to do with the heart than with the mind. …Remembering is turning off the oven before you leave the house, but memory is fueled by emotion. It springs from a deeper well, safe from madness and the passage of time.
Christine Clairy

I believe we have the power to create our own happiness. I believe that the real magic in the world is made by humans. I believe that normal life is extraordinary.
wayne coyne

I believe in mourning. … I believe that caregivers and cared-for people should be free to scream, cry and fall down – if not in fact, then at least in heart. I believe that grief, fully expressed, will transform over time into something less overwhelming, even granting us a new understanding, a kind of double vision that understands both the beauty and the fragility of life.
Cortney Davis

I believe in asking and discussing difficult questions. … We have a duty to confront moral dilemmas and consider the implications of our actions. For me, this is the lesson of the Holocaust. We must passionately debate the political and ethical issues posed by today’s complicated world and we must sometimes disagree, avoiding the dangers of ‘groupthink’, while seeking compromise.
Tamar Duc-Cohan

I believe that how we treat the people we hate the most and understand the least – Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example – says a lot about the freedoms we value in America: religion, speech and freedom. personal. And all these freedoms are based on one thing: tolerance.
Joel Engardio
former Jehovah’s Witness

I believe in maintaining respect for all life. I believe that humanity has a responsibility to the Earth and to the life with which we share our experience. …I believe that my connection to all life forms keeps me from sitting still and watching this catastrophe. … In honor of all life, I dedicate myself to preventing this global ecological crisis.
Michelle Gardner-Quinn
who wrote this for her environmental studies class at the University of Vermont, two days before she was abducted and murdered in 2006

I believe that by fighting for a world that accepts its unity, we can transform wars, intolerance, religious persecution and political extremism into memory and perhaps even into folklore.
sergeant. Ernesto Haibi
Iraq war veteran

My job is to take care of my customers at the counter of a small Texas restaurant, but I also believe that we are in this world to take care of each other. … Can a friendly act begin to generate peace? I believe it is possible. Peace begins with one person but spreads like warmed syrup. When I connect with my neighbors, they return it to me in kind.
Harlow ivory

I believe that everything behind the universe conspires to help us – if we humble ourselves enough to let it.
Kevin Kelly

I believe in telling the truth to children. I believe it is vital for their understanding of the world, their confidence and the development of their morals and values. … I think being honest with our kids has paid off, because I’m pretty sure they’re honest with me now.
Martha Leather

Every person is precious. This I believe with all my heart. Whenever I watch over patients and protect them when they are most vulnerable, my faith comes alive. He catches his breath: Spiritus.
Dr. Isabel Legarda

I believe there are many ways to hold each other captive. It could be with a gun, an army, a holy book, a law, an invisible hand of the free market. It doesn’t matter how we do it, who we do it to, or why. There is no escaping it: we ourselves become captive whenever we hold each other captive.
James Loney
former hostage in Iraq

I believe in using turbulence in my life. I learned this by studying fish. … There are natural streamlines in our lives. I discover that by letting go, I can tap into the complex currents of my life to propel me forward. It was the fish my father introduced me to that finally taught me this.
jimmy liao

I believe in the infinite variety of human expression. … I believe we need to look beyond the voice we have been assigned and find our place among the tones and timbre of human expression.
Yo-Yo Ma
cellist

I believe I am myself. I believe that I – not my stereotypes – should define who I am and what actions I take in life.
Kamal Majeed
high school student

I believe people are extremely trustworthy and deeply in tune. … I see most people share a similar moral compass: they play fair, they give each other a break, and they generally get along. I see that almost everyone operates according to this golden rule.
Craig Newmark
founder of Craigslist

I believe that God does not know the future. … I believe that the fate of our world is not locked in scripture, but that the future is shaped by the laws of nature and by what we humans voluntarily do while on this planet. …Physics doesn’t explain the difference between sound waves and a song, or the difference between sex and love. Physics explains my body, but not my soul. …I believe the soul inspires me to make decisions to decrease pain and increase love in the lives I touch. Many times I try, but I fail. On a good day, I really succeed! And God is pleasantly surprised.
Bill Nunan

I watch what I do to see what I truly believe. Belief and faith are not just words. It’s one thing for me to say I’m a Christian, but I have to embody what that means. I have to live it. The only way to know what I believe is to watch what I do.
Sr Helene Prejean
author of “Dead Man Walking”

When I watch the Earth go by, I realize that I believe in optimism. It would be hard to believe that there is no hope for Earth here. The International Space Station is a collaboration of 16 nations. … The space station itself is the embodiment of what we can do as a global society. … I wish everyone could see the world from my perspective. I believe more people would be optimistic about our future.
Dan Tani
astronaut, from Lombard, Illinois

Lots of wisdom here, not to mention strong conviction. I am grateful to whoever left this book in the little free library. In his introduction, Jay Allison quotes Edward R. Murrow from 1951:

“We live in a time of confusion. Many of us have traded our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism, or for a heavy bundle of despair, or even a quivering slice of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheaply in the marketplace, while commodities such as courage, fortitude, and faith are sorely lacking. Around all of us there is an enveloping cloud of fear.

Allison asks, “Sound familiar?” We, too, are divided by fear — fear of the other, and even of our neighbour. And our media thrive on feeding it. We remain haunted by the same dilemmas, stuck between hope and fear. Our team chose to revive ‘This I Believe’ precisely to counter division, anger, prejudice and to raise the flag of reflection.

What do you think? I narrowed mine down to three:

I believe life is a journey.

I believe everyone has a story and everyone deserves to be heard.

I believe in the ordinary extraordinary.

I will probably write about all three. For the past three decades, I’ve done it before.

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