I am never shy to share my opinion, and for many things, especially the important things, there is a great deal of passion behind the things I believe. For awhile, NPR ran a series called This I Believe, where people from all walks of life from top politicians to grade school teachers wrote essays and read them on the air--their own voice deftly expressing the core beliefs that defined their lives. A website is in place to archive the essays, and continue the unity that was felt in hearing those testimonials. In the wake of Prop 8 being upheld, I have examined a little more closely what I believe, and how important I think it is to share this openly. So, I give you my essay.
This I Believe
by Kim Salyer
There is a life and a world I wish for, and the one I am living now. But the things I believe are the same in both places. Somehow, even though at times I have been given all evidence to the contrary, I believe in the goodness of a group of us that witnesses something wrong. I revel in a group of strangers seeing one person struggling and then uniting to help, and then finding bonds with one another as that happens.
As much as I strongly disagree with other's politics and their beliefs, I believe that we all have a right to say and feel what we believe, to live in the comfort of knowing that in this country, souls who came long before us gathered, debated, fought, drew weapons, and lost lives for that very right. I believe to the core of my being that no matter how outdated the language, or the literal placement of words on parchment, that the spirit of our beginnings was about freedom more than anything else. And though that sounds obvious as I type, I think of how freedom has been lost in a cloud of judgment, religion, division, left or right and red or blue. One side is all wrong and the other is completely right according to whomever is speaking.
However, the men who gathered and wrote and passionately started this country were all flawed, as we now are all flawed. But there is a beauty in that. It is the beauty of a man placing pen to paper and declaring rights for everyone when his life was a contradiction to that statement. But yet, the ink flowed, because even he knew, though he might be steps behind these words in his own life, that they were the right words at the right time. The words were there as a challenge, as a testament, as the country they imagined would be made possible after the last letter of the last name of the last man to sign was written.
I believe history does repeat itself in deceptively different disguises of the very same lessons over and over. We read our history books, biographies, and newspaper articles and shake our heads with disbelief over the acts of groups of people, judging others and doing horrible things to repress them. How far we've come, we think. But it is happening again right now, in a thousand ways, here in America and around the world.
I believe that we are born with the very kernel and core of who we are tightly sewn into our DNA. Some outside forces, whether it is upbringing, calamity and chaos, or the extraordinary luck that can attach itself to a person or family, may affect the outcomes somewhat. But, the very bits of our being- the person we speak to in our own quiet moments and know as ourselves- is there from the onset.
I believe that no judgment or quotation of scripture can change whom a person loves. In a life of abuse and violence, global warming, and news broadcasts that cause most of us to turn off the television before the second story is told--- love IS the one last pure hope. It is still the thing that mysteriously changes our lives without warning, that brings about new life, that gathers a group of strangers together on the internet to help one soul mend a broken heart because we all have the capacity to love.
I believe that all of us should have the right to find and nurture that love without hiding, without fear of judgment or rejection, or worse, violence and hatred. And although some would call my religious beliefs (and struggles) into question, I believe that anyone who thinks that the very savior they believe in would have judged people the way that some do are missing the point so badly that it is painful to watch.
I believe that in time, there will be new ink on paper, the words flashing from a glowing screen as they are created instead of drying on parchment, but a group of men and women will sign. And those who craft those words will be flawed, and may not be living up to those words yet, but they will know it is the right time and the right place. And as the last letter of the last name of the last person is written, it will be another beginning.
This, I believe.