‘This I Believe’ Meditations

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Jonathan Allen – JD – Liberation Theology, Critical Race Theory and Civil Rights Law; LAW’19

This I Believe:

We are all God’s children,

Interconnected, interrelated, and interdependent.

This I Believe:

Our diversity is our strength and our power.

This I Believe:

God sides with the oppressed and is actively working throughout the world to liberate those under the weight of oppression, injustice, and deprivation of life, liberty, and dignity.

This I Believe:

We have more in common than we think and therefore, share a bond that if activated can disrupt forces of evil and injustice in our world.

This I Believe:

That all things are possible and that with the power of possibility we can create a more just and equitable world.

This I Believe:

The best is yet to come and that with faith, hope, and love we are indeed better together.

This I Believe:

If God is the Creator, and we are God’s Creation, then the best way to get to know more about God is to spend more time with what God has made.

This I Believe:

Life is a collection of moments; therefore, we must cherish each one.

This I Believe:

NO weapon formed against us shall prosper, we are more than conquers.

This I Believe:

God is greater, wiser, smarter, more caring, and more involved in our lives than our human capacity can conceive.

This I Believe:

We have an obligation, a collective responsibility, to treat all living things with dignity and respect. And thus, our obligation requires that we work diligently to eradicate dehumanization.

This I Believe:

Irrespective of our religious affirmations, God’s love and heart for justice transcends doctrine.

I believe in our capacities to make change. I believe that we are inherently good.

I believe that anything that divides us is counter-goodness and Anti-God.

I believe that regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, educational level, religious background, gender, or even political party, that we need each other.

I believe that we are greater than our worst mistake or misjudgment, and are therefore, worthy of forgiveness and restoration.

I believe God is everywhere, capable of living in everyone, and can do anything.

I believe, we, as God’s offspring, are equipped to foster greater harmony in our communities through empathy and intentionality.

I believe that leaders concerned with social transformation must take care of themselves by developing self- awareness, social-awareness, and spiritual-awareness.

This I Believe:

That LOVE is the answer to all things. This I Believe!

Carolyn Hoffman – BA – International Relations; CAS’19

If the past four years have taught me anything, it is that life can be unpredictable. The major you began freshman year in has absolutely no interest to you anymore? Sure. The dryer in the laundry room does not actually dry your clothes in one cycle? You bet. The BU Bus is not around the corner as the app claims but is instead all the way at the medical campus? Every other day it seems.

But in all seriousness, my time as an undergraduate student at Boston University has fast-tracked my life from being a 17-year-old nervous about how to spend the weekends to a 21-year-old who is employed, in a graduate program and with a partner I want to spend the rest of my life with. This evolution did not happen overnight; it happened over minutes, hours, days, weeks and years of hard work, late night snacks and purchasing of face masks that claimed to rejuvenate my extremely tired-looking face.

I have mental illness, and for the last year I’ve been battling depression. I’ve had anxiety for almost my whole life, and I began seeing a therapist when I was 10. In high school I began medication for generalized anxiety and it made a world of difference. My sophomore year in college I began having panic attacks, and I started additional medication for that. But depression is unfamiliar to me, and that has made my mental illnesses even more unpredictable.

As someone with mental illness in her family, you could say that I was genetically predisposed to it. But as a “type A” student at a challenging university, I would say that predisposed me to mental illness even more. My longing for perfection in all aspects of my life—academics, extracurriculars, relationships etc.—is countered by the reality that there are only 24 hours in a day, and it is impossible to make everyone happy while making sure I am happy.

I, like many students, appear perfectly fine on the outside because I am able to hide behind the façade of my resume. President of this, co-chair of that, Honors in this…the list goes on but the reality is skewed. Too often I fear that disclosing my mental illness will result in others’ thinking I am less capable and less stable. But I realize that in doing so, I am preventing myself from living authentically.

I believe that if we talk about our mental illness experiences, not only would mental illness become less stigmatized but the world would also become a better place. Being vulnerable with loved ones and strangers is scary but necessary if we wish to create a more compassionate and empathetic society. If we hide our stories, we do ourselves the injustice of limiting support and failing to speak our truth.

I have mental illness, but mental illness doesn’t have me. I am not defined by my mental illness and neither are you. I have faith that we can join together by sharing our stories in order to eliminate, once and for all, the silent suffering of those with mental illness.

Katherine Ward – BS – Biomedical Engineering; ENG’19

My journey these last four years through Boston University and my spiritual growth journey are intertwined and inseparable. The physical journey to Boston wasn’t trivial: home is 918 miles away, my closest distant relative is in Philadelphia and the closest person from my high school graduating class was going to college in Washington, D.C. I quickly realized when I got here that the culture I grew up in and the culture of Boston University were vastly different.

I was alone.

I knew regardless of where I went to college that I wanted to form my own religious affiliation now that I had left the private Presbyterian school I attended for 12 years. I came to Marsh Chapel my first Sunday at Boston University because it was the closest walk from Warren Towers. I’m not sure whether it was the space, the stained glass, or the music but Marsh instantly felt familiar. While I personally identified with the Episcopal tradition, I never felt the need to look elsewhere for a church home once I came to Marsh.

So I stayed.

I stayed until the people became familiar faces and then close friends. I kept coming long enough that I eventually grew out of my habit of sitting alone in the pews on Sunday and then heading straight to study to Mugar library alone for the rest of the day. I became an advocate for the small community of Episcopal students on campus and worshipped regularly with the Episcopal chaplains Cameron Partridge and then Karen Coleman. I began to look forward to the community dinners and even studying for finals because of the study retreats organized by Brother Larry. I found my community and my family, my home away from home.

Now that I have attended my last community dinner and my last study retreat, I can look back on this whirlwind trip through Boston University. I can’t imagine what my journey would have looked like without Marsh, as it was an integral part of every week I spent on campus. Once I paused to reflect a bit, I realized that God was behind all of this. God’s spirit is in this space, the people who fill it, and the sounds that resonate inside of it.

About this time next week, my journey through Boston University will be complete.

Maybe I’ll return back to Boston and to this community at Marsh that I’ve come to call family, or maybe I won’t. But, no matter what, the experiences and memories I’ve formed here are coming along with me for the next leg of the journey.

Karey Statin – BS/MS – Political Science and Urban Affairs; CAS 18′ and MET’19

I believe that we can learn to live as one human race. We have the capacity to eradicate the embedded racism that has been reinforced by fear and greed. We have the intelligence to cure all diseases physical and mental, if we choose to work together and share all experiences and knowledge. We have the strength to overcome all challenges foreign and domestic, external and internal, if we unite as one. We have the power to decimate all forces of evil, if we join together in faith. We have the love to conquer hate, if we individually and collectively treat everyone the way we would like to be treated.

I believe that in order to achieve our real and true potential, we must be willing to change. We must seek the truth and release the lies we have been taught. We must accept our own faults and strive to make the right corrections. We must be willing to learn and acknowledge the commonalities that we share with others that don’t look like us. We must face our fears and denounce the hypocrisy that created, and continue to fuel them. We must relinquish our unfounded advantages, to remove unfair disadvantages imposed on others. We must sacrifice our gains to empower those who have been denied opportunities through systematic oppression. We must, with purpose and intention, visually and expressively change positively to encourage others to embrace our change, and to make the same change for themselves.

I believe, because after initially coming to Boston University in 1978 and experiencing the positive change of attitudes and behaviors toward each other showing a new respect of individual persons and cultures. Now, nearly two generations later, I believe because in spite of all the chaos and pessimism, I see optimism in the eyes of my schoolmates here at BU, and I hear optimism in the expressions and conversations of my classmates. So, I know we are headed in the right direction.

Finally, I believe with our Creator guiding and leading us all the way, we will all become the best versions of ourselves, as He who began a good work in us has and is careful to see it to completion.

Denise-Nicole Stone – BS – International Relations; CAS’19

My sophomore year, after reading the book, This I Believe which compiled accounts from the NPR segment, I wrote my own version. When thinking about writing this, I went back to it, curious to see what has changed in the past two years. I wrote that I believed in presence and appreciation, that these tenants drove the core of my being.

This assessment holds generally true. However, I think I would define it differently now. Now, I say that I believe in bearing witness. Bearing witness to the beauty, heartbreak and complexity of life. I think this journey; the good, horrible, and mundane moments of life, is sacred and worthy of sincere attention.

My BU experience, and especially the past two years, has been full of opportunities to explore new topics in a variety of situations. They have taken me to Israel, Geneva, South Africa and St. Louis. They have asked me to explore restorative justice, international responses to conflict, peacebuilding, the shortcomings of aid and the challenges of community. I have seen the capacity of people to address challenges and collaborate for healing, and to do immense harm to one another.

Bearing witness is not merely to see. It is to allow all that we have seen to change us and alter how we approach the world. It is active. It is a commitment to hold the stories of those we have met and to carry them with us. It is a commitment to try to understand what can be understood and above all to honor our human connections. I believe in sitting with tension and discomfort, wrestling with pain and love in community and asking questions of myself and others. How am I contributing to this situation? How can I disrupt cycles of harm? What are our responsibilities to one another?

What I believe has changed slightly since Sophomore year, it has evolved and been clarified by my experiences. The college years are dedicated to such growth. It is a period of near constant change and opportunity. As I leave this space, I hope life continues to teach me, challenge me and that in 2 years I will be able to further refine my beliefs.

I want to live in a way that interrupts harm, that bears witness to all of life and that honors my connection to all people.

This I believe.

 

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