Monday, May 25, 2015

Book thirty-three: This I Believe, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman

If you listen to NPR, you've probably stumbled upon the This I Believe program. They select personal philosophies of men and women and put them on the air. When the idea began, it was going to feature famous people and the super successful, but a letter from one female listener made the producers realize that we all have philosophies and they are all worthy of being shared. Well, if you can manage to pare it down to the appropriate size for the radio segment.

"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 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." --Robert Heinlein, "Our Noble, Essential Decency" - as featured in the 1950s series

My favorite essay was written by Albert Einstein. You can read it here, if you're interested.
"Man's ethical behavior should be effectively grounded on compassion, nurture, and social bonds." (Who can argue with that thought from that man?)

There is another essay written by Jason Sheehan entitled There is No Such Thing as Too Much Barbecue, that I'm pretty sure is what my brother would write were he to write such an essay on his personal beliefs. "I believe–I know–there is no such thing as too much barbecue."

The award for scariest essay opening goes to Newt Gringrich. "I believe that the world is inherently a very dangerous place and that things that are now very good can go bad very quickly." Yikes.

There isn't a significant distinction found between the essays written in the 1950s and the contemporary pieces. Our current beliefs rest in the same realm as they most likely always have. What drives us? How do we become good people? Is there or isn't there a God? What does it mean to be ethical? How do we embrace and ensure our freedoms? I've always liked this series and this book, representing the voices of so many varied peoples, confirms why.

33 down plus 19 to go.

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