Vigilante Kindness: This We Believe

Hi, guys.  I’m re-posting this with the slideshow that served as the finished product to this writing workshop.  It was really interesting to see which beliefs the student writers chose for the slideshow and equally interesting to see which ones they didn’t choose.  The finished product is about eight minutes long and leaves me teary-eyed each time I watch it.  I’m so proud of these kids and am honored to call them mine.  

Storms and power outages here have been intermittently casting the evenings into quiet darkness. Malaria is fever has struck several people I know and ringworm is leaving its itching, festering mark on the faces of the kids I love. Life is hard here and I know I’m only scratching the surface.

Last Saturday I held a voluntary writing workshop for the high school kids at the school. There were about fifteen writers including students, myself and two teachers from Sweden who I’d met in town and wanted to join in the fun. We were a small, but mighty group of writers and we tackled the topic of writing about our beliefs, using Tarak McLain’s This I Believe essay as our model. We brainstormed topics to write beliefs about and the students chose to write about God, love, education, friendship, life and then they added on any other beliefs they felt strongly about

imageOne of the student writers summed up the last couple of days perfectly when he said, “Life is demanding in terms of keeping good health.” It is so very demanding and I’m on my face grateful for my own health.

Maybe you or a loved one are facing the demanding battle of fighting for the precious gift of health. Maybe you feel a bit in the darkness as of late. Maybe your spirit is feeling impoverished. I know mine has been as of late.

Last night as lightning and thunder struck simultaneously in the sky above me, I sat under the light of my flashlight reading the beliefs my students had penned. I was reminded that hope rises above darkness. Hope rises above disease. Hope rises above poverty. Hope rises. Period.

Need proof? Here are just some of the beliefs they wrote that are striking all kinds of chords with me.

This I Believe about God:

  • I believe God is our breath.
  • I believe with God we can do better.
  • I believe God is my best friend.
  • I believe in God’s mercy.
  • I believe God can do wonders in our lives.
  • I believe God gives us unique gifts.
  • I believe in the miracles of God.
  • I believe God can feel my heart.
  • I believe God is always present in me.

This I Believe about Friendship:

  • I believe a friend who encourages is a friend of great value.
  • I believe friendship without trust is nothing.
  • I believe friendship is a choice.
  • I believe friendship is magical.

This I Believe about Education:

  • I believe education is boldness.
  • I believe education needs one heart.
  • I believe education is a way to tour the whole world.
  • I believe education gives us hope in the future.
  • I believe education can eradicate poverty.
  • I believe education can stop violence in homes.
  • I believe in education as a solution to ignorance.
  • I believe education builds up the family.
  • I believe education is for everyone.
  • I believe education is the best gift my parents can offer me.

This I Believe about Love:

  • I believe love fulfills.
  • I believe love never hates.
  • I believe without love, I am nothing.
  • I believe love is what you show.
  • I believe love is life.
  • I believe love makes us stay in peace.
  • I believe if you have love, you won’t kill.
  • I believe love does not rejoice in bad acts.
  • I believe love is giving confidence to the broken-hearted.
  • I believe love always forgives.
  • I believe love does not hide anything.
  • I believe love is holy.
  • I believe with love we can transform this world.

This I Believe about Life:

  • I believe life deserves respect.
  • I believe life has no spare parts.
  • I believe life is given by God.
  • I believe life without the soul is impossible.
  • I believe life is full of adventures.
  • I believe life is putting others first before yourself.
  • I believe life means giving comfort to one another.
  • I believe life has no price.
  • I believe everyone has the right to have life.

This I Believe about Other Things:

  • I believe in my mother.
  • I believe a family is someone who protects you.
  • I believe faith rescues.
  • I believe I have a future.
  • I believe I am a blessing.
  • I believe I can change the world.

Your turn. What do you believe?

This I Believe: 1-100

My husband is the  consummate list maker.  He leaves himself a ‘To Do List’ each day before leaving work.  He delights in listing the best songs, best athletes, best movies, etc.

Me?

I’ve never been a list maker.  I write a grocery list and that’s it.  Even then I always manage to forget to buy at least one thing.

That is until last July when I became aware of a little boy who wrote his 100 beliefs for the 100th day of school.  I don’t agree with all of his beliefs, nor do I expect you to agree with all of mine.  What I do agree with is thinking hard about what I believe.  So I began tapping away at the keyboard, writing my own beliefs one line at a time.

The first thirty or so were easy, jumbling out in a quick rush.  The next thirty took some time, appearing in handfuls and pairs.  The last forty took, well, months.  I’d write one every once in a while, sometimes stopping at the words ‘I believe’ followed by bouts of blank staring.

I found myself deleting beliefs if my actions did not align with the words.  If I wasn’t living something, how could I claim to believe it?  On days when I was the better version of myself, instead of deleting the belief, I’d delete the action that didn’t fit.

I typed and then erased duplicates, relieved to know that I believed something at least enough to think of it on more than one occasion.

I carried this project with me and found my beliefs in the most unexpected places.  In the car, in the shower, on airplanes, on the couch, in my classroom, in the grocery store, in bathrooms, in dreams, in waiting rooms, and even on the playground.  I’d scavenge the depths of my purse for an old receipt and a pen, scratching out my beliefs at stoplights and checkstands.  I’d leave them on my answering machine and scrawl fragments in my bedside notebook.

Four months and 100 beliefs later, I’m surprised and content in the knowledge that there is so much to believe in.

Here is my list.

Read it.  Curse it.  Applaud it.

Whatever your reaction, when you reach the end, sit down and start a list of your own.  Discover yourself in the most unexpected places.  Discover unexpected parts of you in the most regular of places.  It will impact your life in compelling ways.  This I believe.

This I Believe

1) I believe God is good.

2) I believe my husband’s love is real.

3) I believe the written word is a living, powerful thing.

4) I believe truth is truth and it cannot be manipulated or changed.

5) I believe all people have the capacity to love.

6) I believe all people can learn.

7) I believe in the sanctity of marriage.

8. I believe in being a good steward of the planet.

9) I believe people should read every day.

10) I believe riding my bike helps me see beauty.

11) I believe I am responsible for helping the sick.

12) I believe in protecting children.

13) I believe in honesty.

14) I believe that time is my most valuable resource.

15) I believe I am a writer.

16) I believe in actively seeking peace.

17) I believe in thinking before speaking.

18) I believe in healing.

19) I believe people should smile at each other more often.

20) I believe in equality.

21) I believe that each day is precious.

22) I believe people should own fewer things.

23) I believe in buying books.

24) I believe people should go outside more.

25) I believe there are a lot of good books waiting to be written.

26) I believe in miracles.

27) I believe in Heaven and Hell.

28) I believe giving is better than receiving.

29) I believe that a drink of clean water helps almost everything.

30) I believe in saying what I mean and meaning what I say.

31) I believe life is full of humor.

32) I believe in taking naps.

33) I believe in being organized.

34) I believe joy comes in the morning.

35) I believe alcohol and tobacco are drugs.

36) I believe in examining the heart of my desires, instead of examining the desires of my heart.

37) I believe in focusing less on being right and more on doing good.

38) I believe playtime is important.

39) I believe in strength of heart.

40) I believe in eating with friends.

41) I believe age is just a number.

42) I believe God created the universe.

43) I believe home cooked is better than store-bought.

44) I believe in buying produce from the Farmers Market.

45) I believe in the underdog.

46) I believe the taking of life is the responsibility of God, not of man.

47) I believe people should not own guns.

48) I believe the Bible is the Word of God.

49) I believe in living drug free.

50) I believe “Thank you.” is a valid response to “I love you.”

51) I believe everyone has a story.

52) I believe love is a choice.

53) I believe the Holy Spirit lives in me.

54) I believe prayer is a conversation with God.

55) I believe some weeds are more beautiful than flowers.

56) I believe death is not the end.

57) I believe I am called to teach.

58) I believe breast milk is baby’s best first food.

59) I believe in laughing often.

60) I believe the book is usually better than the movie.

61) I believe in right and wrong.

62) I believe yelling never helps reach a resolution.

63) I believe anger can be a catalyst for change.

64) I believe a fetus is a baby and a baby is a life.

65) I believe in singing every day.

66) I believe joy is independent of circumstance.

67) I believe in staying up late and sleeping in during the summer.

68) I believe cuddling under a blanket is better than turning on the heater.

69) I believe in angels.

70) I believe in sharing ideas.

71) I believe I have a lot to learn.

72) I believe people should focus less on looking for the right person and more on being the right person.

73) I believe parenting is the most difficult and most important job.

74) I believe in asking questions.

75) I believe grief has many faces.

76) I believe my actions can help or harm and the choice is mine.

77) I believe ability is the most important part of ‘disability’.

78) I believe I have not been given a spirit of fear,

79) I believe in delegating.

80) I believe I am an important part of my community.

81) I believe in daily quiet time.

82) I believe children should be taught big concepts and big words.

83) I believe in voting.

84) I believe truth is stranger than fiction and also much easier to write!

85) I believe people should travel as often as possible.

86) I believe in gathering stories from previous generations.

87) I believe research is critical in pre-writing.

88) I believe taking a deep breath is good in all circumstances.

89) I believe in writing small.

90) I believe a good cry is necessary sometimes.

91) I believe in tithing.

92) I believe people who are unhappy at work should change jobs or change their attitude.

93) I believe worship is in daily life.

94) I believe my marital vows.

95) I believe healthcare is a basic human right.

96) I believe actions speak louder than words.

97) I believe God still speaks through visions and dreams.

98) I believe depression is an illness.

99) I believe great generosity begets rich blessing.

100) I believe my life is a gift.