This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women
  • This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women
  • This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

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by Jay Allison
     
 

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An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women

Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty essayists-from the famous to the unknown-completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own

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Overview

An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women

Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty essayists-from the famous to the unknown-completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others.

Featuring a well-known list of contributors-including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F. Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike-the collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer; a part-time hospital clerk from Rehoboth, Massachusetts; a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas; and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island's parole board.

The result is a stirring and provocative trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of people whose beliefs-and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them-reveal the American spirit at its best.

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Editorial Reviews

In this thought-provoking book, which was based on an NPR series, 80 essayists use the three little title words as a jumping-off point to a discussion of their deepest personal beliefs. The list of contributors includes Colin Powell, Isabel Allende, Bill Gates, John Updike, William F. Buckley Jr., Gloria Steinem, and Penn Jillette; but it also includes relatively unknown people with everyday jobs. A stirring cross-section of beliefs.
Publishers Weekly

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.
Library Journal
In an age of disinformation, spin, and lies, NPR's This I Believe comes as a source of refreshment and useful disquiet. NPR revived this 1950s radio series quite recently, and this collection (not complete at the time of review) draws transcripts from both the original series and its newer version, including some remarkable statements from the likes of dancer/choreographer Martha Graham, autistic academic Temple Grandin, writer and physicist Alan Lightman, novelist and social critic Thomas Mann, economic historian Arnold Toynbee, and feminist writer Rebecca West. Astonishing to hear and astonishing to read and reread, this work is a wonderful addition to any library. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/06.] Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

“To hold this range of beliefs in the palm of your hand is as fine, as grounding, as it was hearing them first on the radio. Heartfelt, deeply cherished beliefs, doctrines for living (yet none of them doctrinaire). Ideas and ideals that nourish. You can see it in their faces, in the photos in this book. And read it in their words. I'm so proud that NPR helped carry this Edward R. Murrow tradition into a new century. And so glad to have it in print, to encounter again and again.” —Susan Stamberg, special correspondent, National Public Radio

“My father, Edward R. Murrow, said that "fresh ideas" from others helped him confront his own challenges. This superb collection of thought-provoking This I Believe essays, both from the new program heard on NPR and from the original 1950s series, provides fresh ideas for all of us!” —Casey Murrow, Elementary education publisher

“Reading this gives me a feeling about this country I rarely get: a very visceral sense of all the different kinds of people who are living together here, with crazily different backgrounds and experiences and dreams. Like a Norman Rockwell painting where all the people happen to be real people, and all the stories are true. It makes me feel hopeful about America, reading this. Hopeful in a way that's in short supply lately.” —Ira Glass, Producer and Host of This American Life

“Now, as then, when Edward R. Murrow introduced the idea of This I Believe, this forward-thinking compilation serves as a wonderful antidote to the cynicism of the age.” —Daniel Schorr, Senior News Analyst, NPR, and former colleague of Edward R. Murrow

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805080872
Publisher:
Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
10/03/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

This I Believe

The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women


By Jay Allison, Dan Gediman, John Gregory, Viki Merrick, Nubar Alexanian

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2006 This I Believe, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-1845-9


CHAPTER 1

Be Cool to the Pizza Dude


Sarah Adams


If I have one operating philosophy about life, it is this: "be cool to the pizza delivery dude; it's good luck." Four principles guide the pizza dude philosophy.

Principle 1: Coolness to the pizza delivery dude is a practice in humility and forgiveness. I let him cut me off in traffic, let him safely hit the exit ramp from the left lane, let him forget to use his blinker without extending any of my digits out the window or toward my horn because there should be one moment in my harried life when a car may encroach or cut off or pass and I let it go. Sometimes when I have become so certain of my ownership of my lane, daring anyone to challenge me, the pizza dude speeds by in his rusted Chevette. His pizza light atop his car glowing like a beacon reminds me to check myself as I flow through the world. After all, the dude is delivering pizza to young and old, families and singletons, gays and straights, blacks, whites, and browns, rich and poor, and vegetarians and meat lovers alike. As he journeys, I give safe passage, practice restraint, show courtesy, and contain my anger.

Principle 2: Coolness to the pizza delivery dude is a practice in empathy. Let's face it: We've all taken jobs just to have a job because some money is better than none. I've held an assortment of these jobs and was grateful for the paycheck that meant I didn't have to share my Cheerios with my cats. In the big pizza wheel of life, sometimes you're the hot bubbly cheese and sometimes you're the burnt crust. It's good to remember the fickle spinning of that wheel.

Principle 3: Coolness to the pizza delivery dude is a practice in honor, and it reminds me to honor honest work. Let me tell you something about these dudes: They never took over a company and, as CEO, artificially inflated the value of the stock and cashed out their own shares, bringing the company to the brink of bankruptcy, resulting in twenty thousand people losing their jobs while the CEO builds a home the size of a luxury hotel. Rather, the dudes sleep the sleep of the just.

Principle 4: Coolness to the pizza delivery dude is a practice in equality. My measurement as a human being, my worth, is the pride I take in performing my job — any job — and the respect with which I treat others. I am the equal of the world not because of the car I drive, the size of the TV I own, the weight I can bench-press, or the calculus equations I can solve. I am the equal to all I meet because of the kindness in my heart. And it all starts here — with the pizza delivery dude.

Tip him well, friends and brethren, for that which you bestow freely and willingly will bring you all the happy luck that a grateful universe knows how to return.


Sarah Adams has held many jobs in her life, including telemarketer, factory worker, hotel clerk, and flower shop cashier, but she has never delivered pizzas. Raised in Wisconsin, Adams is now an English professor at Olympic College in Washington.

CHAPTER 2

Leaving Identity Issues to Other Folks


Phyllis Allen


Standing in the rain waiting to go up the steps to the balcony of the grand Theater, I gripped Mama's hand and watched the little blond kids enter the lobby downstairs. It was the fifties, I was "colored," and this is what I believed: My place was in the balcony of the downtown theater, the back of the bus, and the back steps of the White Dove Barbecue Emporium. When I asked Mama why this was so, she smiled and said, "Baby, people do what they do. What you got to do is be the best that you can be."

We got our first television in the sixties, and it brought into my living room the German shepherds, snapping at a young girl's heels. It showed children just like me going to school passing through throngs of screaming, angry folks, chanting words I wasn't allowed to say. I could no longer be "colored." We were Negroes now, marching in the streets for our freedom — at least, that's what the preacher said. I believed that even though I was scared, I had to be brave and stand up for my rights.

In the seventies: Beat-up jeans, hair like a nappy halo, and my clenched fist raised, I stood on the downtown street shouting. Angry young black men in sleek black leather jackets and berets had sent out a call from the distant shores of Oakland, California. No more nonviolence or standing on the front lines quietly while we were being beaten. Simple courtesies like "please" and "thank you" were over. It was official; Huey, H. Rap, and Eldridge said so. I believed in being black and angry.

By the eighties, fertility gods lined the walls and crammed the display cases of all my friends' houses. People who'd never been closer to Africa than a Tarzan movie were speaking broken Swahili. The eighties made us hyphenated: "African-American." Swaddled in elaborately woven costumes of flowing design, bright colors, and rich gold, I was a pseudo-African, who'd never seen Africa. "It's your heritage," is what everybody said. Now, I believed in the elusive promise of the Motherland.

In the nineties, I was a woman whose skin happened to be brown, chasing the American dream. Everybody said that the dream culminated in stuff. I believed in spending days shopping. Debt? I didn't care about no stinkin' debt. It was the nineties. My 401(k) was in the mid-six figures, and I believed in American Express. Then came the crash, and American Express didn't believe in me nearly as much as I believed in it.

Now, it's a brand-new millennium, and the bling-bling, video generation ain't about me. Everything changed when I turned fifty. Along with the wrinkles, softened muscles, and weak eyesight came the confidence that allows me to stick to a very small list of beliefs. I'll leave those identity issues to other folks. I believe that I'm free to be whoever I choose to be. I believe in being a good friend, lover, and parent so that I can have good friends, lovers, and children. I believe in being a woman — the best that I can be, like my mama said.


Phyllis Allen has sold Yellow Pages advertising for fifteen years. She spends about half her working hours in her car covering territory around Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. She composed her essay in her car and practiced reading it aloud in the phone company's utility closet. When she retires, she hopes to pursue her first passion, writing.

CHAPTER 3

In Giving I Connect with Others


Isabel Allende


I have lived with passion and in a hurry, trying to accomplish too many things. I never had time to think about my beliefs until my twenty-eight-year-old daughter Paula fell ill. She was in a coma for a year, and I took care of her at home until she died in my arms in December of 1992.

During that year of agony and the following year of my grieving, everything stopped for me. There was nothing to do — just cry and remember. However, that year also gave me an opportunity to reflect upon my journey and the principles that hold me together. I discovered that there is consistency in my beliefs, my writing, and the way I lead my life. I have not changed; I am still the same girl I was fifty years ago, and the same young woman I was in the seventies. I still lust for life, I am still ferociously independent, I still crave justice, and I fall madly in love easily.

Paralyzed and silent in her bed, my daughter Paula taught me a lesson that is now my mantra: You only have what you give. It's by spending yourself that you become rich.

Paula led a life of service. She worked as a volunteer helping women and children, eight hours a day, six days a week. She never had any money, but she needed very little. When she died she had nothing and she needed nothing. During her illness I had to let go of everything: her laughter, her voice, her grace, her beauty, her company, and, finally, her spirit. When she died I thought I had lost everything. But then I realized I still had the love I had given her. I don't even know if she was able to receive that love. She could not respond in any way, her eyes were somber pools that reflected no light. But I was full of love, and that love keeps growing and multiplying and giving fruit.

The pain of losing my child was a cleansing experience. I had to throw overboard all excess baggage and keep only what is essential. Because of Paula, I don't cling to anything anymore. Now I like to give much more than to receive. I am happier when I love than when I am loved. I adore my husband, my son, my grandchildren, my mother, my dog, and frankly I don't know if they even like me. But who cares? Loving them is my joy.

Give, give, give — what is the point of having experience, knowledge, or talent if I don't give it away? Of having stories if I don't tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don't share it? I don't intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world, and with the divine.

It is in giving that I feel the spirit of my daughter inside me, like a soft presence.


Novelist Isabel Allende was born in Peru and raised in Chile. When her uncle, Chilean president Salvador Allende, was assassinated in 1973, she fled with her husband and children to Venezuela. Allende has written more than a dozen novels, including The House of the Spirits and a memoir, My Invented Country.

CHAPTER 4

Remembering All the Boys


Elvia Bautista


I believe that everyone deserves flowers on their grave.

When I go to the cemetery to visit my brother, it makes me sad to see graves — just the cold stones — and no flowers on them.

They look lonely, like nobody loves them. I believe this is the worst thing in the world — that loneliness. No one to visit you and brush off the dust from your name and cover you with color. A grave without any flowers looks like the person has been forgotten. And then what was the point of even living — to be forgotten?

Almost every day my brother's grave has something new on it: flowers from me, or candles from the Dollar Store, or an image of the Virgin Maria, or shot glasses. There's even some little Homies, these little toys that look like gangsters.

Once my brother's homies even put a bunch of marijuana on there for him — I think my mother took it away. I think she also took away the blue rag someone put there for him one day.

Sometimes, when I bring flowers, I fix the flowers on the graves around my brother's grave. Some of the headstones have birthdates near my brother's; they are young, too. But many of them, if they have any little toys or things on them, those are red.

All around my brother are boys who grew up to like red, making them the enemies of my brother. My brother was sixteen when he was shot by someone who liked red, who killed him because he liked blue. And when I go to the cemetery, I put flowers on the graves of the boys who liked red, too.

Sometimes I go to the cemetery with one of my best friends, who had a crush on a boy who liked red who was killed at eighteen by someone who liked blue. And we will go together and bring a big bunch of flowers, enough for both of these boys whose families are actually even from the same state in Mexico.

There is no one but me and a few of my friends who go to both graves. Some people think it's a bad idea. Some people think it's heroic.

I think they're both being silly. I don't go to try to disrespect some special rules or stop any kind of war. I go because I believe that no matter where you came from or what you believed in, when you die, you want flowers on your grave and people who visit you and remember you that way.

I'm not any kind of traitor or any kind of hero. I am the sister of Rogelio Bautista, and I say his name so you will hear it and be one more person who remembers him. I want everyone to remember all the boys, red and blue, in my cemetery. When we remember, we put flowers on their graves.


Elvia Bautista, twenty-two, lives in Santa Rosa, California, where she works as a caregiver for the elderly and mentally handicapped. Bautista stayed after her brother's murder even though the rest of her family moved away. A high school dropout, Bautista now speaks to young people about the dangers of gang life.

CHAPTER 5

The Mountain Disappears


Leonard Bernstein, as featured in the 1950s series


I believe in people. i feel, love, need, and respect people above all else, including the arts, natural scenery, organized piety, or nationalistic superstructures. One human figure on the slope of a mountain can make the whole mountain disappear for me. One person fighting for the truth can disqualify for me the platitudes of centuries. And one human being who meets with injustice can render invalid the entire system which has dispensed it.

I believe that man's noblest endowment is his capacity to change. Armed with reason, he can see two sides and choose: He can be divinely wrong. I believe in man's right to be wrong. Out of this right he has built, laboriously and lovingly, something we reverently call democracy. He has done it the hard way and continues to do it the hard way — by reason, by choosing, by error and rectification, by the difficult, slow method in which the dignity of A is acknowledged by B, without impairing the dignity of C. Man cannot have dignity without loving the dignity of his fellow.

I believe in the potential of people. I cannot rest passively with those who give up in the name of "human nature." Human nature is only animal nature if it is obliged to remain static. Without growth, without metamorphosis, there is no godhead. If we believe that man can never achieve a society without wars, then we are condemned to wars forever. This is the easy way. But the laborious, loving way, the way of dignity and divinity, presupposes a belief in people and in their capacity to change, grow, communicate, and love.

I believe in man's unconscious mind, the deep spring from which comes his power to communicate and to love. For me, all art is a combination of these powers; for if love is the way we have of communicating personally in the deepest way, then what art can do is to extend this communication, magnify it, and carry it to vastly greater numbers of people. Therefore art is valid for the warmth and love it carries within it, even if it be the lightest entertainment, or the bitterest satire, or the most shattering tragedy.

I believe that my country is the place where all these things I have been speaking of are happening in the most manifest way. America is at the beginning of her greatest period in history — a period of leadership in science, art, and human progress toward the democratic ideal. I believe that she is at a critical point in this moment and that she needs us to believe more strongly than ever before in her and in one another, in our ability to grow and change, in our mutual dignity, in our democratic method. We must encourage thought, free and creative. We must respect privacy. We must observe taste by not exploiting our sorrows, successes, or passions. We must learn to know ourselves better through art. We must rely more on the unconscious, inspirational side of man. We must not enslave ourselves to dogma. We must believe in the attainability of good. We must believe, without fear, in people.


Composer, conductor, pianist, and educator, Leonard Bernstein was longtime music director of the New York Philharmonic, where he led the highly successful Young People's Concerts series. Bernstein forged a new relationship between classical and popular music with his compositions West Side Story, On the Town, Candide, and others.

CHAPTER 6

How Is It Possible to Believe in God?


William F. Buckley, Jr.


I've always liked the exchange featuring the excited young darwinian at the end of the nineteenth century. He said grandly to the elderly scholar, "How is it possible to believe in God?" The imperishable answer was, "I find it easier to believe in God than to believe that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from This I Believe by Jay Allison, Dan Gediman, John Gregory, Viki Merrick, Nubar Alexanian. Copyright © 2006 This I Believe, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women

Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty essayists-from the famous to the unknown-completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others.

Featuring a well-known list of contributors-including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F. Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike-the collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer; a part-time hospital clerk from Rehoboth, Massachusetts; a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas; and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island's parole board.

The result is a stirring and provocative trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of people whose beliefs-and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them-reveal the American spirit at its best.

Read More

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This I Believe 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
MaggieMaeBooks More than 1 year ago
Listening to everyday people - from celebrities to single mothers and from teens to octogenarians - talk about their core beliefs, the things that see them through and guide their lives, is comforting. Yes, comforting in a time when the media would have us think that we're all a bunch of shallow, gimme-gimme, mindless twits with no substance (or all crooked with no scruples). Well, I'll take a stab at generalization, too, and guarantee that there are very few people who will not be inspired to greater introspection after having a first listen to this audio book. And, I further guarantee that listening to this WITH someone else will open up lines of communication that had been invisible. If a folk-music-lovin' 65 year old granny and a hard-core-metal-guitar-shredding 18 year old genius can connect on a deep philosophical level about homelessness and faithfulness and the power of a hug - you can use this to bridge any gap. In paperback or on audio book, these are powerful, very powerful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book to give as a present, even for non-readers. A Book of small composed positive beliefs. A quick read to jump start your day.
b4champ More than 1 year ago
The book gave a broad range of insights into what many different people from various walks of life, and from different times believe in. The book revitalizes my belief in people.
pfish More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book full of thematic essays on topics fundamental to the human condition. Many essays are moving, profound or just beautiful. It's not often a book can be chock full of inspiring words and be captivating at the same time. But this one is...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started to feel reflective with the new year coming and reading this book provided the spark to get the ball rolling. It suprised me to notice that the essays were timeless. It didn't matter that some of them were written in the 50's or if they were written in 2006. If you like people watching this will give you a nice snap shot of our times
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