In 1951, famed journalist Edward R. Murrow began hosting a radically new radio program called “This I Believe.” This program featured numerous social figures, including Helen Keller, Harry Truman, Jackie Robinson and Eleanor Roosevelt, who wrote and read aloud essays about their personal beliefs. These beliefs ranged from the future of humanity, to the virtue of patience, to the abundance of beauty in the world.
The program achieved great popularity, and both comforted and inspired its listeners. That was in the ’50s. It has now been over 60 years, and tens of thousands of individuals have published “This I Believe” essays. Several years ago, I received a book with a collection of these essays. I picked the book up, thinking it would be an easy read to pass the time over winter break, and immediately found myself emotionally moved after just the first essay.
The more essays I read, the more I felt compelled to write my own essay. So, eventually, I sat down, fired up my laptop and pulled up a blank Word document. I wanted to come up with a funny, yet inspirational topic like Sarah Adams, who wrote about why it’s important to always be nice to the pizza delivery guy.
I stared at a blank screen for about half an hour before accepting that I’m just not that funny. At least, I’m not funny when I’m trying really hard to be.
After I accepted that, I shifted my attention to just writing down what I believe, and then picking one of those beliefs as my topic. Again, blank screen. What do I believe? I couldn’t even figure out where to start. So, naturally, I gave up.
Now, fast forward about four years, and I’m sitting here writing my last Goodness Gracious column for The Carroll News. When I first started writing this column, I felt the same indecisiveness and frustration about what to write. How could I possibly sum up all of my wisdom and experiences into a final “goodbye” essay?
I started reflecting again on my column, and how Goodness Gracious has evolved over the past two years. To my readers, this evolution probably hasn’t seemed like much. To my readers, it’s been the same old rants, criticisms, celebrations and whatever other random thoughts crossed my mind.
But, to me, my column has evolved from simple observations to actual affirmations of what I believe in. I always thought I was writing my columns for my readers, but I’ve recently realized that I’ve been writing them for myself. I wrote them to help myself process news stories, social issues and my own thoughts and experiences.
Basically, I’ve unknowingly prepared myself to finally write that “This I Believe” essay.
So here it goes. Keep in mind I have only about 300 words left to work with, so this will be brief.
I believe there is no right way to live your life. People are constantly deciding what is right and wrong, what others should and shouldn’t do, and who should be respected and who should not. But, the bottom line is that we are all people. We’ve all come from the same place, and we’re all going to end up in the same place. One person’s happiness and success doesn’t equal another’s.
Additionally, I believe your beliefs should be your own. From religion, to politics, to who you choose to spend the rest of your life with, you alone have the power to decide what is right for you. Don’t be afraid to question what people tell you or even what you’ve grown up believing for your entire life. You are ultimately responsible for your own happiness.
I believe in the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone and broadening your perspective of the world. How can anyone expect to understand life after only seeing it from his or her viewpoint? It’s like quickly driving by the Grand Canyon and only taking one picture. That one picture from that one angle isn’t going to capture all of the beauty and glory that is the Grand Canyon. Don’t be afraid to do something that scares you if it means ultimately bettering yourself.
Finally, I believe that a person should never stop learning. Education doesn’t end with a college degree or a high-end job. Education is a lifelong process that leads you up until the end of your life, so that you can look back at it all and appreciate what you experienced.
This I believe.
To my loyal readers, thank you for your attention throughout these years. I hope you enjoyed what you read, because I definitely enjoyed writing it. This has been Grace Kaucic, signing off!