I Believe. As far back as I can remember, these two words shaped my world. I was raised in a church and culture where every person, young and old alike, were called on to stand up in front of their community and state what they believed.
When I was a child, church and family shaped what I believed in. I was taught the Articles of Faith. Beliefs such as:
- We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
- We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
- We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul — We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
I was then asked to explain the meaning of each belief and challenged on their veracity. Church was a part of my daily life and every day, I was challenged on what I believed in.
As I grew up, I grew away from the community in which I was raised, but I took my core beliefs with me. I do believe that each person is responsible for their own actions. I do believe each person has the right to practice their own religion whenever and wherever they wish, and each person has the freedom from religion.
As I’ve grown and explored the world around me, I’ve added to my beliefs. I became a Realtor a couple decades ago and truly do believe in the underlying morals of the Fair Housing Act and love that I live in Oregon where we’ve added to these protections. I believe in treating everyone fairly and protecting people from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, disability, marital status, source of income, sexual orientation including gender identity, and domestic violence victims.
Do you see that? Treat people fairly. It’s not just a law, it’s what I believe.
We are a Nation that was built on freedom of expression and while we started this Nation by only granting freedom to a privileged few, we have had a dream that we have continually built on and in 2016 we have grown to extend that freedom to so many more people. Martin Luther King shared his dream with us in 1963, and as he said, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
The recent rise of a man who speaks of turning back all the progress we’ve made and wishes to turn everything I was taught and everything I believe in on its head has been shocking. It’s shocking like being thrown in an icy ocean and I am struggling to breathe type of shocking. The rise of Donald Trump has been antithetical to my very belief system. In the words of Michelle Obama, “Strong men — men who are truly role models — don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful. People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.”
So I am here, sharing my thoughts and my beliefs with you.
I Believe. I believe everyone has the right to freedom of, and freedom from religion. All religions. I honestly and truly believe it.
I Believe. I believe each and every person is responsible for their own actions. Own what you say. Own what you do.
I Believe. I believe everyone has the right to love whomever they wish and to express that love, with consent.
I Believe. I believe in pursuing goodness, kindness, and expressing compassion. I believe in lifting others up because the stairway to the heavens reside in each of us.
We must take the pledge together and march onward. We cannot turn back.