This week I am writing my version of a “This I Believe” statement. “This I Believe” is a radio program developed mid-20th century and hosted by Edward R. Murrow. The program gained widespread popularity and is still actively participated in by people around the world. Through it, anyone from celebrities to the anonymous. This is my rough draft — I haven’t submitted it (yet), because I am still working on the final. It’s supposed to be between 350 to 500 words, and while mine meets that requirement, it still feels a little incomplete. If you have any thoughts about what it’s missing, I’m all ears…
I have written many “This I Believe” essays. Correction: I have attempted to write many of them. Yet I constantly find myself struggling to figure out what exactly it is that I believe, leaving the writing sounding forced, conceited, pretentious, boring, and a lot of other hyper-critical adjectives.
But I’ve matured. Maybe. Or I’ve learned something more about myself…perhaps.
So I sweated writing this one, knowing that I had to do it and not sure where to start. I started reexamining my original attempts, others’ versions. My life in general. And I started to realize:
I believe in lies. More to the point, I believe in hypocrisy; the lies we tell ourselves. To me, life is kind of a hypocrite. It giveth and it taketh away. It will prove a theory one day only to disprove it the next. Life pretends to be something it is not—just like we are all but actors on the world’s stage. Even etymologically, there is support for this interpretation of hypocrisy: it is derived from the Greek word “hypokritḗs: a stage actor, hence one who pretends to be what he is not” (Dictionary.com).
I believe that a believer is actually a deceiver, even if only of themselves. “Belief is a beautiful armor but makes for the heaviest sword” (John Mayer, 2003) and can have transformative or transcendent results, but belief remains, nonetheless, a construct. It is artifice, in one’s native tongue—their self-speak—that is meant to inspire or motivate. And self-deceive. The lies we tell ourselves support us when we’re caving-in; they are how we quiet our mind in moments of crippling grief or terror and live to believe another day.
After all, are we not naturally guileful creatures, capable of convincing ourselves and others of nearly anything? Legions of nations have been erected on belief and sand, both of which constantly shift underneath us.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
That is why I believe in hypocrisy. Life could not function without it. Empires could not crush the weak, rebellion would not righteously retaliate. Murder would not devastate, nor could justice aggregate. I believe that people believe whatever they contrive to believe, believing that belief is believable enough.
But at the heart of belief is a “lie”—you can’t even spell the word without it. So I believe in lies. I believe in hypocrisy. And I believe in nothing at all.