I Believe by Coral Anika Theill

I BELIEVE each soul has a responsibility for the entire world and that our personal losses can be a vehicle to experiencing a greater good. Surrendering lost dreams helped me prepare for new dreams.

I BELIEVE we all embrace the hope and dream that humanity can be free to act humanely and that someday all people will resonate Christ-consciousness, compassion, non-judgment and peace toward one another. I BELIEVE in the inherent worth of every person. People are worthy of respect, support, and caring simply because they are human.

I BELIEVE in seeking to defeat injustice, not people.

I BELIEVE that the Universe is on the side of "justice" and that right will prevail.

I BELIEVE in working towards a culture that is relatively free of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, national origin, degree of ability, age, etc.

I BELIEVE in the sanctity of the human person. I oppose the use of torture and cruel or unusual punishment including the death penalty. (http://www.innocenceproject.org)

I BELIEVE in the importance of democracy within religious, political and other structures.

I BELIEVE In the separation of church and state; and the freedoms of speech, association, and expression. I BELIEVE in the generally positive influence that most religions have had on their followers and on society and that the systems of truth in the field of morals, ethics, and religious beliefs are not absolute; they vary by culture, by religion and overtime. I BELIEVE in the importance of individual believers determining evil influences and policies within their chosen faith group, and advocate for their correction. If the beliefs people have adopted prevent them from feeling love, equality and inner connectedness with all mankind, then I believe that they must challenge their beliefs and integrity. I BELIEVE in the importance of education - that people are not truly educated unless they have studied at least the world's major religions and ethical systems. They need to learn of the good and bad impacts they have had on society. People need to understand the religious sources that inspired Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, and Mother Teresa to commit their life to the alleviation of human suffering. But they also need to learn the shadow side of religion: how religious beliefs have contributed to hatred, intolerance, oppression, discrimination, as well as mass murders and genocides in such places as Nazi Germany, Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Sudan and countless other countries. I BELIEVE in respecting another's religion, but if their religious beliefs cause harm or are being used to abuse another, then I must speak out against the abuse.

I BELIEVE our goal should not be eliminating religion, but illuminating the tactics by which it commands obedience and discourages doubt so that people can recognize these and reject them. It is more important that we all make up our own minds, use reason to guide us, and do not passively rely on faith or authority of religious leaders. Rather than keep our thoughts in captivity, we should set them free to explore wherever they wish - to seek out different viewpoints, to question fearlessly, and most importantly, to expose all ideas to the fire of testing. The ones worth being kept will survive. Humanity has a vast potential to accomplish things as yet undreamed-of, but blind faith will never take us there. If we are to become aware of the dangers that beset us and enter into a future where we can realize this potential, this is the way we must learn to live. I BELIEVE that domestic violence is a crime. It is a complex problem with roots in an oppressively hierarchical, patriarchal violence-accepting society. There is a point at which behavior becomes predatory and malicious - a point at which one is morally obligated to separate themselves from that person.

I BELIEVE that the symbol of "patriarchal ownership" is shameful and elicits public condemnation. "The chattel laws of the past are very much alive and the only women who retain custody after divorce are those whose husbands did not fight. When we divorce in this society, we are divorcing the protection of marriage, like an umbrella, the rights given to men were shared with the wife. Once divorced, we are not protected under the law and, therefore, our children are not protected either. Nor do we have a rightful claim to the children we birthed. We are set adrift in a society still clinging to archaic practices. The manipulation and retaliation, the denial and complicit behavior of community are foundations in patriarchal society where male superiority is king, and women who fight back against this rule are punished severely. Mothers desperately, both individually and collectively, need to be vindicated and our good names restored." - Melissa Barnett, Mothers of Lost Children Advocate I BELIEVE in protecting children and object to the government's lackadaisical approach to fighting human trafficking.

I BELIEVE in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the integrity and value of international law.

I abhor Genocide, corruption, colonialism, needless war and greed.

I applaud Civil Rights, Humanitarian Activism, strength, courage and resistance to state terrorism.

I protest the contamination of the earth, particularly water supplies, military base toxicity, Monsanto, Agent Orange and GMO food.

As a non-military writer researching the subject of Marines and Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury and Suicide Prevention, I feel a deep gratitude to our servicemen and women and believe our society needs to do more to respect, understand and support those returning from deployment in conflict zones. Invisible Battle Scars: Confronting the Stigma Associated with PTS & TBI

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