On this day when the United States inaugurates a new president, one elected by a minority of eligible voters, using a constitutional loophole, through a campaign based on hate, ignorance, and fear, I thought it might be a good time to take a personal assessment. It has been a while since I wrote something like this, and I’m not a very philosophical person to start with, so take that into consideration as you read.
 
This I believe.
 
I believe in the power of learning. Open-ended, open-minded, uncensored, take-it-where-you-will learning. When that ends, so does life.
 
I believe in public education. Because every child, not just those with money, influence, or luck, deserves a solid foundation for the rest of their life. That’s power that comes from a strong system of public schools, which is also the cornerstone of a functioning democracy.
 
I believe in science. Not because scientists have all the answers, but because the scientific process is committed to always looking, always asking questions.
 
Related to that, I believe in curiosity and the art of asking questions. Because anyone who claims to have all the answers is wrong. And possibly an impediment to human progress.
 
I believe that any real change in this world comes from progressive, positive, committed optimism. Working to recreate the past, one that likely only existed in the mind, is a waste of time and energy. That attitude probably comes from being an educator for most of my entire adult life. I still don’t understand how anyone can teach children and not be optimistic about the future.
 
I believe in travel, both physical and virtual. Especially to places that are very different from wherever I am right now. The best way to understand other people, and foster peace in the world, is to visit them where they live, listen to what they have to say, and talk with them honestly.
 
I believe in humor. Not the kind that tears down, belittles, and diminishes people, but humor that exposes the flaws of life and makes me think as well as laugh. Plus the just plain silly stuff, of which the members of Monty Python were masters.
 
Finally, I believe there is much good in the people of this country. But also that our greatest problem remains the indifference shown by most of them when it comes to the larger society and our very fragile participatory democracy. I have an expanded post on this topic, should you care to read it.
 
Well, that’s it. Or at least all I can think of at this moment. As with most of my opinions, I reserve the right to change my warped little mind when new evidence is presented. Except for Monty Python, of course.