This I believe
I believe a culture that values education will thrive and grow. Education bears the fruit of tolerance, self-knowledge, and positive social change. I believe learning is its own reward and that those who believe money is their reward for education, will get it, and without much trouble but likely without much knowledge. While a college degree happens to be a strong social currency, Education and its applications are not and must not be confined to classrooms. Jed, a young student I met while working as a writing tutor, showed me this (names have, of course, been changed). He returned to college after serving a sentence for a felony conviction. While working together on his essays, he confided that by going to college, learning to focus on math and sociology and writing, he has also learned to control his anger. He now has some good friends, a scholarship, and a fresh start. I believe in education. I believe it is the best solution to long-term problems because it is the only long-term, transformative solution.
I believe in the power of food as a healing instrument and a means of cultural self-expression. Every day I make choices between options that are narrowed by a culture that is powered by corporations and industry. I have the power to take back my original, now invisible options. Common sense and communion and have given way to Gogurt and Gushers, fruit loops and high-fructose corn syrup. Before they came from multivitamins, nutrients came from food. Uncomplicated, unpackaged, unprocessed food. Last summer I found a part of myself as I learned to make cheese from milk as my great, great grandmother must have done, and yet another as I visited the farm where my food was grown and grew more vegetables in my own garden. I can comprehend, though vaguely, the complexities and joys of life halfway across the world as I parse a complicated curry or burn my first souffle. I believe Food is a way to simultaneously connect with the earth from which it came and the people who create meals from its bountiful ingredients. When I make deliberate choices about food, I recognize myself as a part of the whole.
I believe the mouth is one of the most important parts of the body. It is where nourishment enters body and the mind finds expression as ideas exit in the form of words. I believe that I, along with many others, would find more happiness and health if I guard more closely what goes in and what comes out. A large ship is indeed guided by a small rudder.
I believe in the transformative nature of words and ideas. Among others, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, and Harper Lee have shown me the power of words and parts of me are real products of their fictions. Scout’s innocence and evolving devotion to justice, Pip’s realization of his self-destructive search for external happiness, and Jean Val jean’s story of kindness, mercy, and personal redemption express some of the best parts of me and ideals to which I aspire.
Although I had read or been read to all my life, the first book I remember getting excited about is Johnny Tremain. I was ten, and my teacher had assigned the book. I read it twice, once for fun, and answered every question with a paragraph where a sentence would have sufficed. A new world had been opened. Reading has allowed me to glimpse the wonder of science, experience the beauty of a diverse humanity, and find companions in this human experience.
I believe that we are connected in ways we do not and cannot understand that are best expressed through literature. Poetry, once inaccessible to me, has given breath and validity to my own deepest emotions and core beliefs. With John Donne, I affirm that all mankind is of one author, no man is an island and that any man’s death diminishes me. I believe, like W.H. Auden, that we must love one another, or die. These words and ideas penned by great authors and poets have allowed me to think their thoughts and become, if only slightly, the product of their ideals. God bless Gutenberg.
Okay, bloggers, Consider yourselves "tagged." If you choose to blog a This I Believe essay, post a link in the comment section; I would love to read yours, now that I've borne my soul. It's a challenge, and knowing that someone else will read it changes the quality of the experience. You'll find instructions here. Who knows? You may like it so much that you'll want to go on the record by submitting it to the NPR Essay database.