This I Believe

In the 1950s, there was a radio show called “This I Believe”. People wrote essays about things that they believed, and then had 5 minutes to read those essays on the radio. The show was very popular, and later became a series of best-selling books of the same name.

I recently started an online seminar on book-writing and book-promotion. One of the homework assignments was to write a manifesto. The seminar leader explained that our manifesto should describe what our world view is. In other words, what do we believe in?  In that spirit, I’ll add the following quote…. “a man who stands for nothing will fall for anything” (Malcolm X).

This is what I believe.
I believe in altruism. I believe in the value of doing something for other people, without expecting or wanting anything in return.

I donate time and money whenever I can. I mostly try to do so in my local community, so that I know that it will help people close to me, even if I don’t know who the recipients are. I like to say “you might be surprised who gets helped the most”. It might be me.

I donate blood. This is a great way to help others, and expect nothing in return. My hope is that my 8 gallons (and counting) have helped dozens of people who need my blood more than I need it. I will never know who was helped, and that’s ok.

I have a little booklet of sayings and quotes. One of them is “as I give to the world, so shall the world give to me”. Call that karma if you want. I believe in it. And my life works a lot better when I practice it.
I believe there is enough to share. I have been blessed in my life with too many things to list here. I live in an affluent area, my wife and my daughters and I have great gigs to go to every day. We live in a time and a place where we live like princes and princesses. We want for nothing important.

I believe that everyone deserves to have the same opportunity. Everyone. Not just the people with the same beliefs as me, or the same political persuasion, or those who root for the same football team. Everyone-no exceptions.

Why limit opportunity for others? Where is the win in that strategy?
I believe in the value of great public education. The next generation of leaders, teachers, physicians, CEOs, and public servants are sitting in classrooms right now. Why wouldn’t we want them to be their very best?

When my wife and I started the process of house-hunting in the early 1990s, our real estate agent (who was on the school board of a district nearby) suggested that we go house hunting in the district with the very best schools in the state. We objected at first. We explained that “we will never have children” (not a very accurate prediction, by the way). He explained to us that even if we never had children, that the value of our home would always stay strong, because the value of good schools drives the value of home prices. He was right. Even during the mortgage meltdown 10 years ago, the value of our house dipped a little bit, and only temporarily.

We have two daughters who have benefited from the value of these great schools. One of our daughters is now running for membership on the Board of Education. I think she believes in the value of a great public education, too.
I believe in the value of financial literacy. I was surprised at how many of you enjoyed the financial essays in my first book (“Financial Literacy”, “The Ant and the Grasshopper”).

Most workers no longer receive a pension. Because of that, most of us are now have to plan for, and save for, our golden years. Never before have so many of us been responsible for our own financial future. Never before have so many of us been so unprepared to deal with that responsibility.

I believe that everyone should know how to balance a checkbook, pay some bills, maintain a simple budget, and understand how to save and invest for the future.
I believe in the value of all people. That includes people from every background, and all races, sex, religions, countries… name it, you’re important. No exceptions. I’ve written about this before- I believe in what the plaque on the Statue of Liberty says. I’m also aware of more intolerance than any time in my lifetime. I can change that in my little corner of the world. I believe that.

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I believe that I need your help. I am not a “self-made man”. I am where I am because of other people. I am not a lone wolf. I received a great education, and great role models helped me become who I am. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

I think it is important that I try to give back, in some small way, what I so freely received.

I believe in the value of companionship. As I have gotten older, I have learned the value of human interaction, especially those with whom I am closest. I need human interaction every day. Even though I am an introvert, I am not supposed to be alone. I am better off for having other people in my life. I do a crossword puzzle with my best friend every day. There is a reason for that, and it isn’t about the puzzle.
I believe in the value of hard work, and the importance of discipline. I know a lot of people who can’t (or don’t) work. I wouldn’t trade places with any of them. Even the wealthy ones. I think work is about a lot more than money. Work provides me discipline, and structure, and keeps me mentally and physically active. It helps my self esteem. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work, and I hope that I’m able to continue working for many more years to come.

I am better off having work in my life. It provides structure and discipline for me in every area of my life, including my social life, diet, exercise, finance, and recreation. I value every part of my life more, because I am so busy.

At the same time, I am aware that a lot of people don’t have a job to go to every day. There are lots of reasons for this (retirement, disability, unemployment, prison, welfare). Regardless of the cause, none of it looks appealing to me. I want to continue working for as long as I am physically and mentally able to do so.
I believe that miracles happen in the lives of people. I’ve seen several of them occur. I’ve seen people with impossible diseases experience cures. I’ve seen people who were once hopeless and homeless experience transformations that allow them to be incredibly productive members of society. I’ve seen people who were once immobilized by illness, who now lead lives with more energy than I have.

Maybe “miracles” sounds too dramatic. But if not a miracle, what other word would you use?
I believe that I can make a difference with my writing and my storytelling. I believe that my writing is pretty good. I regularly receive feedback from readers about how meaningful my essays have been to them. One friend told me that he ready “My Mothers Day Card” three times, and cried every time. Two people this week told me that they wanted to be more like “Ants” and less like “Grasshoppers”. I believe that when I write well, that I can connect with people as well as anyone.

I believe in the power of stories. Stories convey meaning in a way that other written forms cannot. Stories are memorable because they involve people that we know. I remember stories, because I remember people in my life.

Several weeks ago, I held my first book event. I was lucky enough to have an event at the Plays and Players Theater in Philadelphia. Broad Street Ministry did all of the heavy lifting, and arranged an evening that I am grateful for. Fifty of my friends, family and readers attended. It was a special evening. For several weeks, those who attended mentioned how much they enjoyed the event.

What made it really special was that we told stories, and now we have new stories to tell. That night in Philadelphia was my first book event, but it won’t be the last. I promise.

My writing moves people. I know that. I think I do it well. What I don’t do well (yet) is building an audience. I believe that “building an audience” doesn’t just happen for most authors. It takes work, and I haven’t done much of that work yet.

Stay tuned, and I’ll share with you sometime soon what I’m going to do to start increasing the size of My Tribe.

This I Believe.


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