Listening and Thinking
"I don't believe in an afterlife. I don't believe in a single or multiple godhead. I respect people who do, but I don't believe it myself. But there's a big 'but' which enters in here. I am much more conscious than I ever was — for obvious reasons — on what it will mean to people left behind once I'm dead. It won't mean anything for me. But it will mean a lot to them. It's important to them — by which I mean my children or my wife or my very close friends — that some spirit of me is in a positive way present in their lives, in their heads, in their imaginations and so on. So [in] one curious way I've come to believe in the afterlife — as a place where I still have moral responsibilities, just as I do in this life — except that I can only exercise them before I get there. Once I get there, it will be too late. So, no God. No organized religion. But a developing sense that there's something bigger than the world we live in, including after we die, and we have responsibilities in that world." - Tony Judt, from a Fresh Air interview (Judt is a historian who is suffering from ALS--he was talking through a respirator and amplifier)
"I believe that when we permit ourselves to fear, we negate the chance we are each given to contribute through the unique patterns of our respective lives to the meaning and validity of all life. I believe that in merely being alive we have a tremendous responsibility, and that the responsibility is not only to our separate selves but to one another.
I believe it is in fear that we commit the crimes of intolerance and prejudice and what seems to me to be perhaps the saddest, most grave crime of all, our resistance to change. Afraid, we fail to see that the change is the natural and good fruit of knowledge and growth. We cling to the familiar because it is familiar and seems, therefore, to be secure. We butcher the unfamiliar and slaughter justice with the same stroke. Frightened, we seek love only for ourselves and forget to search for love in ourselves." - Phyllis Kirk, from the original This I Believe series (click to read/hear)