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The new paperback in the bestselling series of inspiring personal philosophies
This collection of This I Believe essays gathers seventy-five essayistsranging from famous to previously unknowncompleting the thought that begins the book's title. With contributors who run the gamut from cellist Yo-Yo Ma, to professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, to ordinary folks like a diner waitress, an Iraq War veteran, a farmer, a new husband, and many others, This I Believe II, like the first New York Times bestselling collection, showcases moving and irresistible essays.
Included are Sister Helen Prejean writing about learning what she truly believes through watching her own actions, singer Jimmie Dale Gilmore writing about a hard-won wisdom based on being generous to others, and Robert Fulghum writing about dancing all the dances for as long as he can. Readers will also find wonderful and surprising essays about forgiveness, personal integrity, and honoring life and change.
Here is a welcome, stirring, and provocative communion with the minds and hearts of a diverse, new group of peoplewhose beliefs and the remarkably varied ways in which they choose to express them reveal the American spirit at its best.
About the Author
Jay Allison is one of public radio's most honored producers. He has produced hundreds of nationally broadcast documentaries and features for radio and television. His work has earned him the duPont-Columbia and five Peabody Awards, and he was the 1996 recipient of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Edward R. Murrow Award for outstanding contributions to public radio, the industry's highest honor. He was the curator and producer of This I Believe on NPR and he produces The Moth Radio Hour. Before his career in broadcasting, Jay was a theater director in Washington, D.C. He is also the founder of the public radio stations for Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod where he lives.
Dan Gediman is the executive producer of This I Believe. His work has been heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Fresh Air, Marketplace, Jazz Profiles, and This American Life. He has won many of public broadcasting's most prestigious awards, including the duPont-Columbia Award.
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.
Table of Contents
Finding the Strength to Fight Our Fears
I Will Take My Voice Back
A Silent Night That Brought Healing
Living with Integrity
The Strange Blessing That Brought Me Home
Returning to What's Natural
The Right to Be Fully American
The Person I'm Supposed to Be
Making It Up as I Go Along
Sticking My Nose in the World's Business
BRIGID DAULL BROCKWAY
Teaching a Bad Dog New Tricks
The Learning Curve of Gratitude
MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER
Failure Is a Good Thing
The Faith That Brings Me Peace
The Person I Want to Bring into This World
LAURA SHIPLER CHICO
The Deeper Well of Memory
A Marriage That's Good Enough
Creating Our Own Happiness
A Way to Honor Life
We Never Go Away
The Questions We Must Ask
Learning True Tolerance
Doing Things My Own Way
Dancing All the Dances as Long as I Can
A Reverence for All Life
A Feeling of Wildness
All the Joy the World Contains
JIMMIE DALE GILMORE
As I Grow Old
Untold Stories of Kindness
Peace Begins with One Person
Do What You Love
Combating the Tyranny of the Positive Attitude
My Husband Will Call Me Tomorrow
The Tense Middle
Living in the Here and Now
Inner Strength from Desperate Times
Becoming a Parent Is a Gift
Finding Redemption Through Acceptance
Paying Attention to the Silver Lining
There Is No Blame; There Is Only Love
The Universe Is Conspiring to Help Us
We All Need Mending
SUSAN COOKE KITTREDGE
Telling Kids the Whole Truth
Every Person Is Precious
Navigating Turbulent Waters
All Beings Are Interconnected
A Musician of Many Cultures
Being Content with Myself
That Old Piece of Cloth
My Home Is New Orleans
That Golden Rule Thing
My Personal Leap of Faith
Admittance to a Better Life
Living What You Do Every Day
The Long Road to Forgiveness
The Practice of Slowing Down
Living My Prayer
SISTER HELEN PREJEAN
The Chance to Move Forward
MARIA MAYO ROBBINS
Utterly Humbled by Mystery
FATHER RICHARD ROHR
I Always Have a Choice
I Am Not My Body
Resilience Is a Gift
The Designated Celebrator
Baking by Senses and Memories
Learning to Trust My Intuition
An Optimistic View of the World
Community in Action
Music Makes Me Come Alive
God Is God Because He Remembers
The Guts to Keep Going
AMY LYLES WILSON
Freeing Myself Through Forgiveness
A Potential for Brutality
A Duty to Family, Heritage, and Country
YING YING YU
We're All Different in Our Own Ways
How to Write Your Own This I Believe Essay
How to Use This I Believe in Your Community
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group Guide
1. Dramatic events such as Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War are topics in many of these essays. How, if at all, have recent events shaped your beliefs?
2. Belief in mankind is a common theme among Ernesto Haibi, Roald Hoffmann, and many more. What are some of the recurring threads in these essays? What are their differences? How do these essays stand in light of Yinong Young-Xu's "A Potential for Brutality"? Can these views be reconciled?
3. Tony Hawk, a skateboarder, Yolanda O'Bannon, a secretary, and Dan Tani, an astronaut, write about doing what they love. What does it take to follow one's own path? What sacrifices are required? What would you be doing, if you could?
4. Several of the essays discuss the role music can play in discovering belief, such as Bela Fleck's thoughts on figuring out his own way to do things, Yo-Yo Ma's observations on exploring cultures and traditions, and Joan Tower's view on the power of music. Why do you think music can be such a powerful tool in determining beliefs?
5. Susan Cooke Kittredge writes, "I believe in mending." Do we all need mending? She is starting with her pajamas. Where would you start?
6. Laura Shipler Chico discussed the three qualities she'd like her child to have. What three qualities would you choose for a child? How about for yourself or a mate?
7. Robin Baudier and Andy Blowers turned adversity into what Baudier calls "strange blessings." Is there anything in your own life that could be called a strange blessing?
8. David Buetow believes in his dog. How does looking beyond the humanto animals, things, and placesinfluence the way we believe or behave?
9. Among the vastly different views on marriage in the world are Corinne Colbert's belief that her husband is "good enough" and Betsy Chalmers's perspective of loyalty to an incarcerated spouse. Are there any universal truths about marriage?
10. This book includes essays from students, as well as essays on growing old. What differences or similarities do you find between these age-specific essays, if any?
11. Do you agree with Sister Helen Prejean, that what we do is what we believe? If so, would you want to change anything you do to better match your beliefs? Do you think that most people would be proud to claim their actions as beliefs?
12. If peace begins with one person, as Ivory Harlow believes, how can each of us contribute? Do any of these essays inspire you to action?
13. What do you believe? What were your greatest influences in shaping those beliefs? How have your beliefs changed throughout your life?
14. Has there been someone in your life who instilled your beliefs in you or inspired you in that way?
15. Is there a time when your core beliefs were shaken or tested, perhaps in ways that were uncomfortable or dangerous?
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