The reasons to believe, it turned out, were far more complicated than either of us could have imagined. Bruce Springsteen has never affiliated himself with orthodox Christianity, and has gone on record (vinyl and otherwise) to repudiate the harsh and often demeaning education he received in the Catholic schools of Freehold, New Jersey. Nevertheless, his songs are rife with Christian and Catholic imagery—Adam and Cain, faith, hope, and love, sacred hearts, precious blood buying redemption, the Stations of the Cross, saints and sinners, death and resurrection. Like Hazel Motes in Flannery O’Connor’s darkly comic novel Wise Blood, Bruce Springsteen is obsessed with asserting his own autonomy, and he can’t stop talking about God.
In the interim I married an Ohio girl and started having Ohio kids. I worked a corporate job, stayed close to home, and traveled to exotic California only for occasional business trips and vacations. But I kept buying Bruce Springsteen albums, kept listening for the echoes of my life. And they weren’t hard to find. The albums that followed—the heartland rockers Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River, the brooding, pensive, and all-acoustic Nebraska, the triumphant arena-shaker Born in the USA—established Springsteen’s reputation as the preeminent songwriter of his generation. For me, they were merely the soundtrack to my life. Bruce Springsteen sang about blue-collar guys who worked on the factory assembly line, who wondered if their jobs would be there on Monday morning. I worked the high-tech assembly line, churning out software reference manuals and technical training courses on deadline, and watched my work and the work of my co-workers and friends being shipped overseas. “At the end of every hard-earned day people find some reason to believe,” Springsteen sang. He was right about that one, too.
Some careers specifically involve speaking on behalf of others. For example, spokespeople, crisis communicators, and other public relations professionals speak for other individuals or organizations. Many organizations do not have designated spokespeople, so you may just find yourself speaking on behalf of others because you were asked or told to. This section explores specific communication skills and knowledge that are useful when speaking for others.
usually focuses on using established methods and logic to find and report objective results. Science includes subjects such as biology, physics, and chemistry, and math includes subjects such as statistics, calculus, and math theory. You may not think that communication and public speaking are as central to these courses as they are in the humanities and social sciencesâand you are right, at least in terms of public perception. The straightforwardness and objectivity of these fields make some people believe that skilled communication is unnecessary, since the process and results speak for themselves. This is not the case, however, as scientists are increasingly being expected to interact with various stakeholders, including funding sources, oversight agencies, and the public.
The power of the human voice shaped my life. Every time I give a speech, I remember the past. I learned not to judge others for their speech because I know how it feels. As my voice continues to shape my life, it will undoubtedly change others. That power will not just change the people around me, but the whole world. This I believe.
ATE AT NIGHT I walk the streets of my hometown, my hands stuffed deep in the pockets of my leather jacket to ward off the winter chill, and dream of superstardom. By this time I figured I’d have written the great American novel, worked on the Hollywood screenplay, and consulted with DeNiro and Streep on how to play the lead roles. Perhaps I’d have settled down to a life of public adulation and reverence, bestirring myself for rare interviews on NPR and cameos as the erudite talking head on the occasional PBS series. I had my dreams. Instead, I wear the increasingly ridiculous fashions of youthful rebellion, set aside time for an evening stroll, and retire early, preparing for another day in the cubicles of America.
This I Believe, Inc., in partnership with Henry Holt and Company, published two books collecting essays featured in the NPR series. The first book, , was published in 2006 and became a New York Times bestseller in paperback, while the second volume, , was published in 2008. In addition to collecting these essays for posterity, the books have become popular as common readers at colleges and universities and with “one book, one community” projects. In partnership with publisher John Wiley & Sons, This I Believe published another series of books, each on a particular theme: (2010), (2011), (2011), and (2012). In 2013, This I Believe debuted a new set of books built around essays from a particular city or state, beginning with . Other regional books in the works are This I Believe: Philadelphia and This I Believe: New York City.
Selected contemporary This I Believe essays were featured in regular broadcasts on in the United States from 2005 to 2009, in a series produced and hosted by Jay Allison. Essays were then featured from 2009-2014 in weekly broadcasts on satellite and public radio shows hosted by . Essays are currently heard on the weekly . In addition, the aired essays from Canadians in 2007. In 2005 and 2006, USA Weekend invited its readers to participate in our project and published selected essays from their readers. And numerous local public radio stations, newspapers, and magazines have featured essays from citizens in their communities.
In reviving This I Believe, executive producer Dan Gediman said, “The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”
This I Believe is based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists, and secretaries—anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived. These essayists’ words brought comfort and inspiration to a country worried about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and racial division.
This I Believe, Inc., was founded in 2004 as an independent, not-for-profit organization that engages youth and adults from all walks of life in writing, sharing, and discussing brief essays about the core values that guide their daily lives.
Teachers around the country—and around the world—have embraced This I Believe as a powerful educational tool. They have downloaded our , posters, and brochures for using This I Believe in middle and high school classrooms and in college courses. These curricula help teachers guide students through exploring their beliefs and then composing personal essays about them. The students learn about themselves and their peers, and experience the delight of realizing their views and voices have value.