If you've been around this blog for a while, you know my deep affection for the NPR program "This I Believe". This past weekend's airing of the show was the final time that the show will air. Lucky for ALL of us, this show will continue both in its web presence and in its podcast format. I don't know why programming decisions are always made, but I wanted to take a second to recognize Jay Allison and executive producer Dan Gediman who has been the producer of this show since its first on-air broadcast back in April of 2005 based on an original concept by Edward R. Murrow.
The concept is simple. Essays are solicited from anyone and everyone to state "what they believe". In the relatively short time that I've been following this show essays have been about everything from favorite foods to very significant philosophical and moral issues. Stories of love, war, heartbreak, family have all been shared on air. Thousands more still sit in the online archives for you to browse to your hearts content.
The concept has even been turned into a curriculum or a required annual activity in some schools (in fact, almost a third of ALL essays are submitted by students!). While I don't know Jay (or Dan), I stand in awe of their experience and their wisdom. The gift of reading these essays alone is something to admire; however, I also have come to find the delicate touch with which essays are selected is truly amazing. No two weeks are the same, the balance is always there, and each is always edited and presented just so.
I also comment Jay (and Dan) for producing this concept in the first place. When I began to listen to this show, I, at first, found it a cool way to here a direct vox populi and a source of reflection and inspiration. But I have now found it to be so much more...over every intro I find myself saying "what DO I believe?!?!" Can YOU answer that question? I think that the posing of this question has become the real value of the show...no matter if what you think is good, bad or ugly, its what YOU believe, and its hard work figuring that out.
I continue to be amazed at how hard a question it is to figure out what you believe. And, as Jay says, the reason this concept and this show have been sustained is because, even with the advent of facebook, twitter, blogs (ahem, hello pot this is kettle) this show is something that carries the weight of "lasting". Its not a toss of, its not just asking people walking down the street "what do you believe" its asking them to think about it, and write it down, for keeps.
As Jay said as he reflected on what this show has taught him, its taught him, and me, that we as humans carry an array of beliefs - each show says a lot about us and about what drives and inspires us - and that, as humans, people are more tied together than divided. In asking a simple question, Jay and his show have, for four years, proven the value of thinking, and pondering, and molding and deciding what it is each of us believes. I'm still working on figuring it out for myself complete, but I do believe in this show, and in the fantastic work that Jay and Dan have yielded in sharing this all with us.
2 days ago