Obviously, I believe in a lot of things. The millions of words I write for this, that, and the other thing are testimony to that, but what would you write for this topic (which I am currently writing for an essay to possibly publish)?
Every time I get started, I'm not sure I'm there. Obviously, religion tends to be a formal system in a building, while spirituality takes places anywhere. I'm baptized Catholic, so as I was told by a nun at one point in my life, "You're either a Catholic or a wayward Catholic."
Thus, I get the Nicene Creed.
Throughout my life, I've read a fair bit of philosophy (Western and Eastern), and I always felt that the Tao Te Ching knocked my socks off. If my mind could get peaceful enough, I'd have a chance at that. There's a lot of literature and quotes I'd really like to spend time thinking about. Unfortunately, there's never enough time to do everything I want to do.
Add to this Cowboy Monkey Rodeo on Sunday, and there's yet another reason to do something else!
Now that might sound stupid, but in my family, we give monkey cards to all of the special people. And yes, I started that trend. Monkey cards are special. People shouldn't throw them away. Besides, who doesn't love monkeys?
I'll be honest; I don't know if I want to be friends with a non-monkey person.
So yeah, when I think about what I believe, I think of something more than religion, but that's what a lot of people go back to while I move ahead to 3 songs.
1) REM - I Believe
2. John Lennon - God
3. U2 - God Part 2
Sitting here now, I think of what I believe in, and I list it for you, beginning with religion, since the question asked about that.
1. I believe in God and "Catholic Jesus." I just can't comfortable in other churches (no knock on them - whatever faith you have is a good thing). Call that my strict Irish Catholic Nana's influence (even if she was married to a Jewish guy), or just my regimen, but I'm not into the NPR bands in church (though I listen to them outside of church). I also think people should commit to understand the ceremonies they're participating in (Communion, for example), before engaging in them. That said, stand, kneel, sit, pray, sing in soft lip-synch form isn't always me either (I'm too Mark Twain's Letters from Earth). That said, I do understand and respect the power of being in buildings created to honor God. For this, I do go to church now and again. All the same, I'm more of a spiritual guy than a religious guy. Looking out at the natural creations of the world makes it impossible to believe they were just a random chance existence.
2. I believe in me. If I didn't, who and what would I be? I am so many hobbies, interests, talents, successes, mistakes, and personality traits. While I have Parkinson's, I also love taking pictures of places I go hiking at. Given the choice, I like being a man who lives a People First Life. That said, advocating and educating for Parkinson's is who I am.
3. I believe in love. I love my wife Heather, the woman who makes my life complete. I love my family for their presence in my life, past, present, and future. I love Nature with a capital N (gracias, John Muir!). I love my friends for their support, good nature, camaraderie, and just being them. I love V+S cheese steaks a little too much. Obviously, love means something different for all of them, but love is a good thing. Without it, life isn't worth living. On that note, live life full on. Value life, both in and out of the womb. Be tolerant and respectful. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying (and it all starts with the Golden Rule and "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.").
4. I believe in my family. Back through to the roots of my family tree, they are my history, DNA, biology, and my future. I believe in culture and tradition passed through them. I believe it's my responsibility to pass this on to the next generation. I also believe in the family that we marry into and the ages old close friends (like the extended Wards) who are just like family to us.
5. I believe that every moment of my life has been preparing me to speak out for Parkinson's awareness. I'm not in it for me. I'll be stage 3 before anything gets approved, and by that time, it's too late for me. This is for the next generation.
6. I believe in the Stockdale Paradox (Confront the brutal truth, but know that you will prevail in the end).
7. I believe in Victor Frankl's theory of Logotherapy.
8. I believe in positive psychology and the people (like Martin Seligman) who teach it.
9. I believe in the Tao te Ching and a lot of Asian thought to include Chow Yun Fat's Asian movies (OK, so that's not philosophy, but Hard Boiled and The Killer were great movies).
10. I believe in divine intervention, fail safes, and satoris. The movie 15:17 to Paris features a scene where Spencer Stone asks, "Do you ever feel like life is pushing us toward something, some greater purpose?” That sums it up (by the way, the line was real - not made for the screen). I've experienced all of the above. I've felt on the verge of greater meaning. If all we're meant for is quiet desperation or life after death, why bother here? To think that all God is concerned about is following rules and worshiping him (as opposed to taking care of his creations) is something I can't accept. I get the rules and the "I believe" part, but we either follow it or we don't. Despite the above, I believe in free will.
11. I believe that if you think you are a social justice warrior calling for change by demanding people who don't believe what you do or act the way you do should be fired, then you're part of the problem. Nobody who works hard should be out of work. While people make mistakes, does this mean that they should have their livelihood destroyed? The political extremes seem to forget that nobody is perfect. If they want to destroy one another, break out the steel cages, but for those of us who want to just be, no matter what side of moderate they come up. Let them be conservative or liberal. So be it. That said, giving someone so many words to attack a business they never frequented or a person they never met is ridiculous. Can't we all just get along?
12. I believe in education. I feel that choosing not to educate the young of this world is child abuse (by encouraging reading, learning, and helping with homework, for instance). We can only do if we are taught to ask questions and research the answers / solve the problems. To put roadblocks up for a child is to take away said kid's ability to help him or herself. That would be akin to stunting someone's senses so he or she is unable to interpret what he or she explores. Education teaches problem solving and communication. It requires individual success and teamwork. It's the foundation of our world. Here, I believe in contemplating ourselves and our thoughts through daily reflections. To go through life blindly believing conspiracy and the party line (on any side) is a huge problem.
13. I believe in listening to good music as much as possible.
14. I believe that being an American is in my DNA, but I also believe people were meant to experience other cultures and people. For this, my time in England with my former girlfriend and her family shaped me to be the husband I am for my wife (and the woman she is for husband and kids). We may not like every place we end up (I think of Turkey - I loved England), but to only experience our hometown... that would be a loss.
15. I believe in karma.
16. I believe in altruism.
17. Despite playing too many video games on my computer, I believe my time is important. To offer my time is something anyone receiving it should want (and if they do, I should give it full on). If you don't value your time as much as I value my time, when we're working together, tell me. I have other things to do. I'm sure you feel the same.
18. I believe that we should spend our time and money on things that we value.
19. I believe that there is evil in this world, which is on a scale equal to God's good. I know that we have to stand up and fight it.
20. I believe that we were put on this earth to create things that will make the world a better place. It doesn't matter what they are (tax systems, paintings, swing sets, books, etc.). We should just keep creating since we're happier when we do.
21. I believe in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
22. I believe Nature is sacred and is worth fighting for. I believe in being between trees, staring at waterfalls, marveling at vistas, and climbing in canyons. There is no bad day in Nature.
23. I believe being a teacher improved me and many other people, even if it took a lot of learning to not make the same mistakes all over again (a massive "I'm sorry" to so many people). Additionally, I'm thankful for my students who educated me. There are a lot to name, so it's easier to just say, "Thanks everyone!"
24. I believe the Air Force changed me for the better, even if it had to drop a Daisy Cutter on the old me. I would do it again for what it did for me. I think more people should go military / Peace Corps / volunteer.
25. I believe in collecting quotes to meditate on.
26. I believe in dinosaurs / aliens / ghosts / cryptids, that I married a beautiful and awesome woman (and I'd do it again), the round earth, man-made climate problems, that vaccines are necessary, that ethics are everything, that baseball is the only sport that matters, that not caring about other people is a huge problem, that hate is a problem we have to learn to overcome, that partisan politics will be the demise of the world, that some things should be censored (i.e. schizophrenic hate rants like the Westboro Baptist Church), that history should be taught for what it is (good and bad) so we can learn from it, that celebrating the South for starting an armed rebellion that killed 620-850,000 people is something that needs to stop, that walking around with a gun on open carry is like saying, "I'd like to pick a fight with you" (that said, I do believe in the right to own guns), that Corvettes have gotten lame since the early 1970s, that some pedestrians take advantage of the crosswalks that stop traffic on a dime, that the only real Jeep is a Wrangler, that the U.S. government needs a line item veto, that Turkey Hill raspberry iced tea is awesome, and I believe that we will never solve the issues of abortion, illegal / undocumented immigration, minimum wage, guns, people being Yankee fans and right / left Twix in my lifetime.
27. I believe something really far out happened at Roswell. I'd like to know what.
28. I believe that healthcare is something we're all entitled to in some form. People should not have to worry about whether they or their families will be bankrupted if they need care. I get more expensive coverage for smokers, though I know we need coverage for pre-existing conditions. Refusing to pay that is like saying, "We'll charge you an arm and a leg, and we'll find a way to cover as little as possible."
29. I believe that Christmas is the best holiday out there. While some of the traditions are hokey (yet a lot of fun), we get to be with loved ones and give them gifts. We get to watch kids' eyes light up. We get to sing songs like "Do They Know It's Christmas," too. We get to live in a country where we can watch A Christmas Story 24 hours straight. We get lots of good food and leftovers. What's not to like? And what's more, when we invite people to our Christmas, we put them on our special team (that said, they need to show appreciation and thank yous).. That's so cool. Mind you, I also believe the kids' table is a necessity (for some adults!!)!
30. I believe that all of you, Parkies or not, are good people for supporting my writing dreams of being a Parkinson's educator / advocate. We all have the opportunity to speak out, but you make it possible that people hear my story (and laugh at my poor attempts at humor). What's more; you care about these issues, too. That means something. I may not believe I'll be cured in my lifetime, but I believe, we'll be able to stop progression of the disease, as well as understand how it starts. I know that will lead to a cure for the next generation.
THUS... I have a lot of things to think about as I redo my essay for realsies.