I am not going to talk about religious beliefs but about matters
so obvious that it has gone out of style to mention them.
I believe in my neighbors. I know their faults, and I know
that their virtues far outweigh their faults.
Take Father Michael, down our road a piece. I'm not of his
creed, but I know that goodness and charity and loving kindness
shine in his daily actions. I believe in Father
Mike. If I'm in trouble, I'll go to him. My
next-door neighbor's a veterinary doctor. Doc will get out
of bed after a hard day to help a stray cat--no fee, no prospect
of a fee. I believe in Doc.
I believe in my townspeople. You can knock on any door in
our town, say, "I'm hungry," and you'll be fed.
Our town is no exception. I've found the same ready
charity everywhere. For the one who says, "The heck
with you, I've got mine," there are a hundred, a thousand,
who will say, "Sure pal, sit down." I know that
despite all the warnings about hitchhikers, I can step to the
highway, thumb for a ride, and in a few minutes a car or truck
will stop and someone will say, "Climb in, Mack. How
far you going?"
I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are
splashed with crime. Yet for every criminal, there are ten
thousand honest, decent, kindly people. If it were not so, no
child would live to 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.
in the patient gallantry of nurses, in the tedious sacrifice of
teachers. I believe in the unseen and unending fight
against desperate odds that goes on quietly in almost every home
in the land. I believe in the honest craft of
workmen. Take a look around you. There never were
enough bosses to check up on all that work. From
Independence Hall to the Grand Coulee Dam, these things were
built level and square by craftsmen who were honest in their
I believe that almost all politicians are honest. For
every bribed alderman, there are hundreds of politicians--low
paid or not paid at all--doing their level best without thanks
or glory to make our systems work. If this were not true,
we would never have gotten past the thirteen colonies.
I believe in Roger Young. You and I are free today because
of endless unnamed heroes from Valley Forge to the Yalu
River. I believe in--I am proud to belong to--the United
States. Despite shortcomings--from lynchings, to bad faith
in high places--our nation has had the most decent and kindly
internal practices and foreign policies to be found anywhere in
And finally, I believe in my whole race--yellow, white, black,
red, brown--in the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability,
and goodness of the overwhelming majority of my brothers
and sisters everywhere on this planet. I am proud to be a
human being. I believe that we have come this far by the
skin of our teeth--that we always make it just by the skin of
our teeth--but that we will always make it, survive, endure.
I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching oversized
brain and the opposable thumb--this animal barely up from the
apes--will endure, will endure longer than his home planet, will
spread out to the other planets--to the stars and
beyond--carrying with him his honesty, her insatiable curiosity,
his unlimited courage, and her noble essential decency.
This I believe with all my heart.
(from the 1950's)
* * * * *
Robert A. Heinlein won four Hugo Awards during his fifty-year
career as a science-fiction writer. Born and raised in
Missouri, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929 and
did aeronautical engineering for the Navy during World War II.
Public Radio listeners have been moved to
tears by the personal essays that constitute
the series This I Believe.
Created in 1951 with Edward Murrow as host,
the sometimes funny, often profound, and
always compelling series has been revived,
according to host Jay Allison, because, once
again, "matters of belief divide our
country and the world." Oral
historian Studs Terkel kicks things off, and
80 personal credos follow. Essays from
the original series are interleaved with
contemporary essays (selected from more than
11,000 submissions) to create a resounding