Monday, September 1, 2008

I Want to Believe

Lighting Candles - The Weepies (mp3)
Believe - The Bravery (mp3)

NPR has this series called "This I Believe," where ordinary joes and janes get on and spew out their belief in one particular aspect of faith, life, culture, or other. I generally tune out on these things. Nine times outta ten, it's not particularly worth my time. Thus, karmically speaking, this post is probably doomed to bore, but that's precisely perfect for the topic at hand, one that appeals more than proclaiming what I DO believe, but rather what I so desperately WANT to believe.

I want to believe one woman can step into the D.C. school system with passion and vision and turn around the most notoriously awful inner-city school system in the country. I want to believe it takes a person like that -- clueless to politics but convicted of her certainty and willing to push into the inevitable head winds of opposition -- to affect substantial change. I want to believe that, if she manages by some miracle to succeed, teachers' unions stop embarrassing our country by placing the security of lazy or burned-out or incompetent teachers over the importance of the education of our nation's children. If Michelle Rhee's plan to arrange merit-based pay passes, the number of teachers who will choose the safety of lower salaries to avoid the scrutiny of their performance is going to be a clarion call for just how fucked up our educational system truly is. AT THE MOMENT: Belief beats pessimsm by a few feet.

I want to believe John McCain chose Sarah Palin for deeper reasons than the hope she could steal a few Angry Hilary Supporters from Obama. AT THE MOMENT: Belief is on an iron lung, but it's not dead. I don't know enough about her yet to lack all belief that this could be true.

I want to believe the return of football to television will add some much-craved superficial joy to my weekly existence. I want to believe the college season will be filled with awesome games and dramatic turns of event, and that the NFL will bring some great moments. But mostly I'm resigned to thinking that all football outside the SEC will involve one decent team, a lump of mediocre fluff, and a bottom-heavy suck-fest. AT THE MOMENT: After watching the Big Ten, ACC and Big East all embarrass themselves on Saturday -- including my beloved Tar Heels roughing out a 7-point win against McNeese f*#kin' State, I'm resigned to believe college football will be depressing with the exception of the SEC.

I want to believe Barack Obama will not lose the election based solely on a funny name and extra pigment. I want to believe that, were Obama and McCain forced to switch bodies ala Trading Places, the election numbers would come out the same because America actually pays attention to what these people say and to their hopes and aims for this country's future. I want to believe if McCain wins it won't be merely because he was white.  AT THE MOMENT: C'mon people. We all know better. And I promise this isn't me being all left-wing political. It's because I've heard or overheard at least a dozen conversations in the past months that scream the reality out to me.

I want to believe I'll one day write a novel. It doesn't have to be bought by Penguin or Random House. It doesn't have to get Hollywood production companies competing for the movie rights. It just needs to be something that has a beginning, an ending, a story that links the two in ways that most readers can understand, a character or two that I'm proud of having created and led through the journey. AT THE MOMENT: Hope is neck and neck with fear, with laziness stretching out on the track ahead of them, waiting to stick out a leg and trip one of them up.

I want to believe people are inherently decent and born that way. A friend of ours believes, as do many people, that we are all born evil thanks to the notion of Original Sin. She believes it is the responsibility of adults to protect them from the very worst in themselves and in their nature. I believe we're born good, and the adults are merely working to keep from fucking us up any more than they absolutely have to. AT THE MOMENT: Aw, I have no choice. This is as central a part of my worldview as believing in God or in the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. Fortunately, this is a "Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?" kind of question that can be debated forever without proving anything.

"Lighting Candles" is from The Weepies' second album, Hideaway. "Believe" is from The Bravery's most recent album (or double album if you bought the version I did), The Sun and Moon (Complete). Both can be purchased through iTunes or's mp3 site. The former is solid. The latter is better for only a couple of songs.

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