It’s been a crazy few weeks in the world. Crazy few months, now that I think about it. Governments overthrown, governments on the brink of shutting down, people dug into positions and ideologies that are hard to overcome sometimes. It’s a deep time in our world, in our communities and in the deep places in our hearts.
In times like this, when so much happens so quickly, when what we see and hear a lot of times is negative or argumentative, I think it’s important to slow down and remember that deep inside, we are all good people. For every person out there who is out to do someone harm, there are ten more who truly will stop to lend a hand. In times like this, I often think of this essay from This I Believe.
For the uninitiated, This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. More than 90,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived on their website, heard on public radio, chronicled in books, and featured in weekly podcasts. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.
What follows is one of my all time favorites, by Robert A. Heinlein. If you’d like to find the full page with audio, you can find that here. Feel free to leave comments with your favorites as well.
Before I leave you with a cut and paste from their website, a closing thought from me….I know this is a hard time for a lot of people, including many of you who read this blog. With that in mind, a gentle reminder to breathe and be gentle with yourselves. Keep the faith, sweet friends. We are all we’ve got, and in times like this, I think it’s important to remember that we are enough. YOU are enough. Relax. Breathe in deep. Loosen your shoulders . Let the Divine whisper reminders of sweet Love in your ears. Remember that no matter what the news tells you, people are still good at their core. Love still makes the world go round. Lol, and chocolate still makes the trip worthwhile. 😉
I hope as you read this, it helps you remember your own noble, essential decency and goodness. Enjoy!
Our Noble, Essential Decency
I am not going to talk about religious beliefs but about matters so obvious that it has gone out of style to mention them. I believe in my neighbors. I know their faults, and I know that their virtues far outweigh their faults.
Take Father Michael, down our road a piece. I’m not of his creed, but I know that goodness and charity and loving kindness shine in his daily actions. I believe in Father Mike. If I’m in trouble, I’ll go to him. My next door neighbor’s a veterinary doctor. Doc will get out of bed after a hard day to help a stray cat—no fee, no prospect of a fee. I believe in Doc.
I believe in my townspeople. You can knock on any door in our town, say “I’m hungry,” and you’ll be fed. Our town is no exception. I found the same ready charity everywhere. For the one who says, “The heck with you, I’ve got mine,” there are a hundred, a thousand, who will say, “Sure pal, sit down.” I know that despite all warnings against hitchhikers, I can step to the highway, thumb for a ride, and in a few minutes a car or a truck will stop and someone will say, “Climb in Mack. How far you going?”
I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime. Yet for every criminal, there are ten thousand honest, decent, kindly men. If it were not so, no child would live to grow up. Business could not go on from day to day. Decency is not news. It is buried in the obituaries, but it is a force stronger than crime.
I believe in the patient gallantry of nurses, in the tedious sacrifices of teachers. I believe in the unseen and unending fight against desperate odds that goes on quietly in almost every home in the land. I believe in the honest craft of workmen. Take a look around you. There never were enough bosses to check up on all that work. From Independence Hall to the Grand Coulee Dam, these things were built level and square by craftsmen who were honest in their bones.
I believe that almost all politicians are honest. For every bribed alderman, there are hundreds of politicians—low paid or not paid at all—doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true, we would never have gotten past the Thirteen Colonies.
I believe in Rodger Young. You and I are free today because of endless unnamed heroes from Valley Forge to the Yalu River. I believe in—I am proud to belong to—the United States. Despite shortcomings—from lynchings, to bad faith in high places—our nation has had the most decent and kindly internal practices and foreign policies to be found anywhere in history.
And finally, I believe in my whole race—yellow, white, black, red, brown—in the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability, and goodness of the overwhelming majority of my brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet. I am proud to be a human being. I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth—that we always make it just for the skin of our teeth—but that we will always make it, survive, endure.
I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching oversized braincase and the opposable thumb—this animal barely up from the apes—will endure, will endure longer than his home planet, will spread out to the other planets—to the stars and beyond—carrying with him his honesty, his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage, and his noble essential decency. This I believe with all my heart.
Robert A. Heinlein won four Hugo Awards during his 50-year career as a science fiction writer. Born and raised in Missouri, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929 and did aeronautical engineering for the Navy during World War II. Heinlein’s books include “Starship Troopers” and “Stranger in a Strange Land.”