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This I Believe

--by Robert A. Heinlein (Jun 06, 2006)


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 is 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 saying, "I'm hungry," and you will be fed. Our town is no exception. I've found the same ready charity everywhere. But for the one who says, "To heck with you -- I got mine," there are a hundred, a thousand who will say, "Sure, pal, sit down."

I know that despite all warnings against hitchhikers I can step up to the highway, thumb for a ride and in a few minutes a car or a truck will stop and someone will say, "Climb in Mac -- how far you going?"

I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime yet for every criminal there are 10,000 honest, decent, kindly men. 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 is a force stronger than crime. I believe in the patient gallantry of nurses and the tedious sacrifices 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 bones.

I believe that almost all politicians are honest ... there are hundreds of politicians, low paid or not paid at all, doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true we would never have gotten past the 13 colonies.

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, oversize brain case 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 stars and beyond, carrying with him his honesty and his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage and his noble essential decency.

This I believe.

--Robert A. Heinlein


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On May 28, 2016 Edward wrote:

Thank you for posting this, but...

This first aired in 1952, and Heinlein died in 1988.  Please, please correct the date.  That sort of accuracy... would have been important to Robert.



On Jul 18, 2006 Linda Macdonald wrote:
it is healthy to have a positive uplifting attitude and believe in the goodness of people, BUT, we also must be discerning when it comes to others, God does not want us to have BLIND faith, and always seek the light.

On Jun 8, 2006 brinda wrote:
Every act of kindness we receive inspires us to do more.....
each and every day look for the opportunity!
It may seem like a small thing, but I am eternally grateful to a kind man who stayed with me and my young son after I had an accident (in which I landed flat on my face and lost a tooth)...I don't have a cell phone and he gave me his phone to call my husband to come and get us, and he waited with us til he came.
I was so "out of it" that I couldn't think to take down his name or address, but I will never forget his kindness and hope I can do the same for someone someday.
This I believe---actions speak louder than beliefs! Please check out the 50 facts to change the world
Thank you for giving us the space to share on Wednesdays.
With gratitude,
Brinda

On Jun 8, 2006 Nipun wrote:

Discussion notes from Wednesday ... What do I believe? Accumulation of wealth is accumulation of sin. Inconvenient Truth This author hasn't lived in my neighbhorhood; it's hard to trust! The problem of our times is values. A felon is disallowed to vote for the rest of your life; assumes that once you make a mistake, you're not a good person. What I am is more important than what I believe in. I stayed with my friend for two days; another friend stayed in the same place and saw God. It's all about perspective. You have earn your beliefs; you can't just believe. By being who you are, you allow others a chance to be who they are. If everyone gave, there wouldn't be homeless. I wonder if this is true elsewhere? "southern hospitality"? Was try to help three women who didn't speak much English. Cops pulls us over and asks, "Why I want to do good?" Maybe it's my youth, but I believe in the optimism of the passage. Person behind me paid for me at the grocery store when  See full.

Discussion notes from Wednesday ...

  • What do I believe? Accumulation of wealth is accumulation of sin.
  • Inconvenient Truth
  • This author hasn't lived in my neighbhorhood; it's hard to trust!
  • The problem of our times is values.
  • A felon is disallowed to vote for the rest of your life; assumes that once you make a mistake, you're not a good person.
  • What I am is more important than what I believe in.
  • I stayed with my friend for two days; another friend stayed in the same place and saw God. It's all about perspective.
  • You have earn your beliefs; you can't just believe.
  • By being who you are, you allow others a chance to be who they are.
  • If everyone gave, there wouldn't be homeless.
  • I wonder if this is true elsewhere? "southern hospitality"?
  • Was try to help three women who didn't speak much English. Cops pulls us over and asks, "Why I want to do good?"
  • Maybe it's my youth, but I believe in the optimism of the passage.
  • Person behind me paid for me at the grocery store when I forgot my wallet. Time and time again, good has always prevailed in my life.
  • Whatever I end up believeing will become true; but you have to truly believe it, can't fake it.
  • Can't project your belief to your kids; they have to find it themselves.
  • Lost our license during a family trip to Hawaii; the receptionist called her boyfriend at midnight to help. Bonanza of goodness.
  • My world is a projection of my own self; I gotta take full responsibility.
  • 'Inconvenient Truth' movie made me get a hybrid.
  • Life has made me a believer. Got a flat tire on 280 freeway and dear old man helped me out.
  • We are products of multiple circumstances and multiple realities; Heinlen starts with his neighbors, goes to towns people and goes to the whole race. We have to start with our corner of the world.
  • There has to be critical mass of people who believe in a particular for mass adoption of that practice.
  • People really need to know that others care about what they care about.
  • Of all the beliefs, you must believe in yourself first.
  • Best thing you can do for someone is to make them self-sustaining.
  • Goodness is an experience, not words.
  • Accumulation: there's needs and then wants; when you stick with your needs, you wants get taken care of.
  • I tend to be tragically optimistic; and I have been hurt by it.
  • Can't have good without bad.
  • X-men III: power of belief can carry you against all odds.
  • Played a game called "Would you rather?" Trust everyone or no one? Made us realize that without trust, our world would be horrible place to live.
  • I feel like I live like this guy's world; but you need critical mass.
  • I believe in openness; open heart opens doors.
  • 50 facts to change world -- give your phone number to five neighbors you don't know. Why not go a little farther and make 'em a meal?
  • At the end of the day, just do 10 pay-it-forward acts for every goodness you receive and humanity will be fine.

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On Jun 6, 2006 anonymous wrote:
To live without protection from fellow-humans is an amazing experience. The person living it comes
to know the extent of his forgiving nature, his patience and eventually, his limits. Knowing these, he understands selfishness and protection. To know he is capable of
both, helps him be sensitive. And so does he alternate. And then the miracle happens. He knows, he is himself:human.

On Jun 6, 2006 Helmut wrote:

Greetings, I enjoy 99% of your thoughts and meditation sharing, but this one stands out, or should I say, sits out? One of the great faults of the New Age movement ( of which I am an ardent member ), is naivete and denial. History books show us that human beings have left a trail of blood and mayhem whereve they have stepped. And those history books were written by the winners. Can you imagine what history would look like if the victims wrote the books? What Robert writes is probably true. We most likely will survive. We possibly will end up in the far reaches of space. But what's so special about that? We will leave behind a burned out planet and billions of impoverished who can't afford the trip. Truly, what is so different and special about that? Loving your neighbor has nothing to do with how good they are, but what kind of a person you are. It does not absolve you of any responsibllity in fully appreciating how dark this plane of existence truly is. Go ahead  See full.

Greetings, I enjoy 99% of your thoughts and meditation sharing, but this one stands out, or should I say, sits out? One of the great faults of the New Age movement ( of which I am an ardent member ), is naivete and denial. History books show us that human beings have left a trail of blood and mayhem whereve they have stepped. And those history books were written by the winners. Can you imagine what history would look like if the victims wrote the books? What Robert writes is probably true. We most likely will survive. We possibly will end up in the far reaches of space. But what's so special about that? We will leave behind a burned out planet and billions of impoverished who can't afford the trip. Truly, what is so different and special about that? Loving your neighbor has nothing to do with how good they are, but what kind of a person you are. It does not absolve you of any responsibllity in fully appreciating how dark this plane of existence truly is. Go ahead and shine your light, but don't forget that there would be no light if not for darkness. The two are inseparable. Believing anything else is pure denial. All the best, Helmut.

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On Jun 6, 2006 Deepak wrote:
Wonderful. Made me see up, straight in you. Thank you God, thanks everyone. We are there, because, such good people are there, around, everywhere.

On Jun 6, 2006 Del Johnson wrote:
Robert
You said a mouthfull. What a refreshing look through the news reporting to the essence of the people that make up this incredible world. Thank you for your insight. Sincerely, Del