Seven-year-old Tarak McLain was born in Thailand and lives with his family in Austin, Texas. He collects and hands out food to the homeless and raises money for orphans and impoverished schools. He reads about the world's religions and listens to public radio. Sloan McLain hide caption
Tarak says he believes in helping the poor. He raises money by organizing yard sales. Sloan McLain hide caption
Tarak says he believes in helping the poor. He raises money by organizing yard sales.Sloan McLain
Tarak says that he believes in nature and that people should go outside more. Sloan McLain hide caption
Tarak says that he believes in nature and that people should go outside more.Sloan McLain
"I believe that when I meditate I feel peaceful," McLain says. Sloan McLain hide caption
"I believe that when I meditate I feel peaceful," McLain says.Sloan McLain
I believe life is good.
I believe God is in everything.
I believe we're all equal.
I believe we can help people.
I believe everyone is weird in their own way.
I believe hate is a cause for love.
I believe that when I meditate I feel peaceful.
I believe we should be generous.
I believe brothers and sisters should be kind to each other.
I believe kids should respect their parents.
I believe I should not whine.
I believe people should wake up early.
I believe people should go outside more.
I believe in nature.
I believe people should use less trees.
I believe we should help the Arctic and rainforest animals.
I believe people shouldn't throw litter on the ground.
I believe people should not smoke.
I believe God is in good and bad.
I believe in magic.
I believe people should not give up.
I believe love is everywhere.
I believe that God helps us to have a good time.
I believe we live best in a community.
I believe we can protect people in danger.
I believe we should help the poor.
I believe it's OK to die but not to kill.
I believe war should not have started.
I believe war should stop.
I believe we can make peace.
Independently produced for Weekend Edition Sunday by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick.
Although we are no longer accepting new essays on our website, we thought we would share these essay writing suggestions in case you wished to write an essay for your own benefit. Writing your own statement of personal belief can be a powerful tool for self-reflection. It can also be a wonderful thing to share with family, friends, and colleagues. To guide you through this process, we offer these suggestions:
Tell a story about you: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events that have shaped your core values. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.
Be brief: Your statement should be between 500 and 600 words. That’s about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace.
Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief.
Be positive: Write about what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid statements of religious dogma, preaching, or editorializing.
Be personal: Make your essay about you; speak in the first person. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Tell a story from your own life; this is not an opinion piece about social ideals. Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.
For this project, we are also guided by the original This I Believe series and the producers’ invitation to those who wrote essays in the 1950s. Their advice holds up well. Please consider it carefully in writing your piece.
In introducing the original series, host Edward R. Murrow said, “Never has the need for personal philosophies of this kind been so urgent.” We would argue that the need is as great now as it was 65 years ago.