From the Publisher
“In the second collection derived from the extraordinarily popular and influential National Public Radio program This I Believe, pithy, personal, and stealthily affecting essays grapple with life's big questions from myriad perspectives and with refreshingly positive energy....Infused with gratitude and hope, these declarations are at once grounding and uplifting.” Booklist
“By turns moving, thoughtful, cheering and heartbreaking, in an age of irony these essays offer a little something to believe in.” St. Petersburg Times
“This book opens with a formidable challenge: 'What would you say in five hundred words to capture a core principle that guides your life?' Before you try to answer that question, you might want to read some of the 75 essays collected in This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. Many will leave you breathless. And those that don't astonish may simply humble you . . . Many of these speakers articulate beliefs 'forged in hardship'-sometimes horrific experiences of tragedy, illness, or loss. Yet over and again they affirm the good to be gleaned-by those willing to recognize it-from the largest and the smallest lessons of human experience . . . The book's purpose, says Allison, is to 'counter . . . divisiveness' and 'raise a flag for thoughtfulness.' These essays do that but they also do something more: They speak to the best in all of us and leave us in awe of the unheralded virtue that surrounds us every day.” Marjorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor
“This I Believe II features 75 pithy essays by authors young and old, famous and unknown, and engaged in every walk of life. In 'The Right to Be Fully American,' Pakistani-American Muslim attorney Yasir Billoo describes the anguish of being made to feel like a foreigner in your homeland, while virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma expounds the benefits of cross-fertilizing cultures, both in life and in music. In 'The Faith That Brings Me Peace,' Betsy Chalmers describes how the implicit belief in marital faithfulness has enabled her to remain committed to her 30-year marriage to a convicted criminal; in 'God is God Because He Remembers,' Elie Wiesel puts the value of shared history into stark perspective. In the foreword, co-producer Jay Allison describes This I Believe as 'a snapshot of the convictions of our age.' Even a preliminary reading of the book will reveal that these varied convictions arise from a diverse range and depth of experiences.” Aisha Motlani, Shepherd Express (Milwaukee)
Allison and Gediman's newest omnibus highlights 75 more essays from the archives of the successful NPR program, a contemporary version of Edward Murrow's classic radio show. Culled from writers both legendary and previously unfamiliar, each essayist presents what he or she believes in 500 words. From Robin Baudier's tract on "Strange Blessings," detailing her experience living in her parents' FEMA trailer after the devastation of Katrina, to Michelle Gardner-Quinn's credo for "upholding reverence for all life" (Quinn was tragically murdered after completing this essay) to Kim Phuc's essay on "Forgiveness," borne of her experience as that "girl in the picture" running naked, napalm-burnt on a road near Saigon, each micro-essay stuns with its singular beauty, lucidity and humility. Icons like Helen Prejean, Studs Terkel and Elie Wiesel find estimable company in heretofore unknown writers who distill their individual truths with affecting sincerity and admirable aptitude. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Read an Excerpt
Finding the Strength to Fight Our Fears
I believe in fighting fear.
When I was eleven years old and living under the Israeli occupation, I took a chance and after curfew I ran to visit my grandmother who lived two blocks away from us. On the road I had to hide under a truck to avoid soldiers who were coming my way. For twenty minutes I lay there in utter fear watching their boots walk back and forth in front of the truck. My heart was pounding so fast and loud that I was afraid one of the soldiers would hear it and I would be killed instantly.
To calm myself, I started begging God to take mercyon me and save me from these men and their guns. I remembered the words of my mother after Israeli soldiers beat my father. She told us to put our fear and anger aside and pray for the poor soldiers, who were also afraid because they were away from their homes in Israel.
I began to feel bad for the soldiers. I wondered: Where do they sleep and are they afraid of little children like me? What kind of food do they eat? Do they have big or small families? Their voices began to remind me of my neighbors. My fear dissipated a bit as I pictured the soldiers as people I knew. Although my twenty minutes under the truck seemed like an eternity, I believe that shedding my fear literally saved my life.
Thirty- six years later I look around and see another kind of devastation created by fear. I saw the collapse of my city, Detroit, when so many white people fied the city out of fear. After 9/11, the Arab and Muslim communities segregated themselves because of the level of suspicion directed at them from others. Fear of association because of ethnicity led many to retreat within themselves and their community. They stopped socializing with non- Arab/ Muslim colleagues and neighbors. Once again, we allow differences to separate us because of fear.
When I was hiding under that truck, if my terror had made me lose control and I had started to cry, the jittery soldiers might have pulled the trigger because of their own fears. Thank God I lived to wonder about this. I understood as a child that fear can be deadly.
I believe it is fear we should be fighting, not the “other.” We all belong to the same human tribe; that kinship supersedes our differences. We are all soldiers patrolling the road, and we’re all little children hiding under the truck.
Terry Ahwal was born in the West Bank city of Ramallah, and now lives with her family near Detroit. She is development director for the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, and teaches classes in nonviolent communication at Madonna University. Ahwal said her husband’s family is Jewish and that Thanksgiving in their house hold is a mix of Jews and Arabs coming together with no uneasiness.
Excerpted from This I Believe II by Jay Allison.
Copyright © 2009 by by Jay Allison.
Published in July 2009 by Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.