This I Believe

In partnership with Capital Public Radio, SN&R hereby presents a local version of a national media project exploring our core beliefs and ideals as Americans

As a broadcast journalist in World War II, Edward R. Murrow had seen and reported on the worst that human beings can do to each other. By the 1950s, faced with the Cold War, McCarthyism and a racial divide, Murrow worried that Americans had lost their moral compass. The youngest son of Quaker abolitionists, Murrow was deeply influenced by his parents’ ethical and religious views. His brother, Dewey, once described their parents as having “branded us with their own consciences.” Murrow longed for the peace he knew was possible and, to that end, conceived a new radio program that he called “This I Believe.” It featured luminaries like Jackie Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Helen Keller as well as the unexpected voices of ordinary people like Marty Mann, the first woman to join Alcoholics Anonymous, each sharing a short essay about how a particular value or belief took root in their lives.

Murrow clearly understood that no one could write a laudable essay without exploring the question Who am I? In religion, psychology and philosophy, “Who am I?” is known as an eternal question because people have wrestled with it from the beginning, or nearly so. The question also quickly transforms into a quest that plunges us into the vaguely familiar but still unknown parts of our psyche. So, it is a question that we, like the heroes and heroines of the great myths, must return to again and again in our lives, for our sake and for the health of our communities.

It takes enormous courage to admit one’s true values. Popular culture seems to teach that we are what we own or, alternately, that our worth is derived from the amount of our paycheck. But a different current is now under way.

In 2005, National Public Radio revived Murrow’s “This I Believe” project, asking listeners to submit essays for possible broadcast as part of a national dialogue on personal values and civic ideals. Now, in partnership with Capital Public Radio, the Sacramento News & Review is launching a local version of “This I Believe.” At the beginning of winter, we asked local newsmakers and you, our readers, to tell us the stories that inspired the values and beliefs held dear. For a look at the essays submitted so far, go to

The project is ongoing, and we urge you to participate throughout 2006. On the last Thursday of each month throughout this year, a “This I Believe” essay will appear on the inside back cover of our issue, and another will air on KXJZ. Many more will be available on the Web site. Like Murrow, we believe that by reading and listening to these essays, you will see your own and the world’s problems from “a truer perspective” and perhaps take action to protect the values that bind us together as a nation.