This I Believe
BY: SUN STAFF
Nov 27, USA (SUN) In April of last year, a new series began on National Public Radio entitled "This I Believe". Fashioned after the famous 1950's serial hosted by news icon Edward R. Murrow, "This I Believe" encourages individuals from all walks of life to put down in words and share with listeners their deepest personal beliefs.
In his 1951 introduction to the series, Murrow said: "This I Believe. By that name, we present the personal philosophies of thoughtful men and women in all walks of life. In this brief space, a banker or a butcher, a painter or a social worker, people of all kinds who need have nothing more in common than integrity, a real honesty, will write about the rules they live by, the things they have found to be the basic values in their lives.
We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion-a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply."
Murrow's words spoke to the mood of the day, which was still one of high alert following the end of World War II. Today, in the aftermath of 9/11 and amidst the ongoing "war against terror", the same type of fear Murrow spoke of still dominates the minds of many. Thanks to the exacting philosophy handed down by our Sampradaya Acaryas, we can understand that this fear is not limited to any time or place, but is simply an aspect of the material condition.
"Around us all, now high like a distant thunderhead, now close upon us with the wet choking intimacy of a London fog, there is an enveloping cloud of fear. There is a physical fear, the kid that drives some of us to flee our homes and burrow into the ground in the bottom of a Montana valley like prairie dogs, to try to escape, if only for a little while, the sound and the fury of the A-bombs or the hell-bombs, or whatever may be coming.
There is a mental fear, which provokes others of us to see the images of witches in a neighbor’s yard and stampedes us to burn down this house. And there is a creeping fear of doubt, doubt of what we have been taught, of the validity of so many things we had long since taken for granted to be durable and unchanging. It has become more difficult than ever to distinguish black from white, good from evil, right from wrong.
What truths can a human being afford to furnish the cluttered nervous room of his mind with, when he has no real idea how long a lease he has on the future? It is to try to meet the challenge of such questions that we have prepared these pieces. It has been a difficult task and a delicate one. Except for those who think in terms of pious platitudes or dogma or narrow prejudice (and those thoughts we aren’t interested in), people don’t speak their beliefs easily, or publicly. "
In a way, our project has been an invasion of privacy, like demanding that a man let a stranger read his mail. General Lucius Clay remarked that it would hardly be less embarrassing for an individual to be forced to disrobe in public than to unveil his private philosophy. Mrs. Roosevelt hesitated a long time. “What can I possibly say that will be of any value to anybody else?” she asked us. And a railway executive in Philadelphia argued at first that he might as well try to engrave the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin as to attempt to discuss anything thoughtfully in the space of five minutes. Yet these people and many more have all made distinctive contributions of their beliefs to the series."
Murrow closed his introduction by saying, "We don’t pretend to make this a spiritual or psychological patent-medicine chest where one can come and get a pill of wisdom, to be swallowed like an aspirin, to banish the headaches of our times." In fact, in both the 1950's series archives and in the transcripts of this year's recent broadcasts we find drops of nectar that are mixed into an ocean of philosophical and spiritual bewilderment.
Jay Allison, host of the current series, asks listeners to summarize their life philosophy in just 500 words, then chooses the top pick each week for airing on "This I Believe".
Last week, Allison presented the manifesto of an avowed atheist, Penn Jilette, who wrote: "Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future."
Jilette has been joined by other recent contributors whose core beliefs in how to make one's life 'work' revolve around everything from expressions of anger and creativity to ritually feeding the monkeys.
The devotees of Lord Krsna, and especially the followers of his most recent pure emissary, Srila Prabhupada, are in a unique position to contribute to the dialogue on "This I Believe". We encourage our Sun readers to pick up pen or mouse, and to take up the challenge of distilling Krsna Consciousness into a 500-word message that can be consumed by the masses in a public venue like "This I Believe".
Naturally, NPR won't be likely to publish numerous essays that focus specifically on Krsna, but they will be likely to give serious consideration to those essays that present the absolute truth in a voice their audience can digest. In other words - the bar is low. We hope the devotees will step up, and give the world a dose of the most potent philosophy available on the planet today.
When you send your submission to NPR, send a copy to the Sun for publication.