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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Column: This we believe

From what I remember, life at age 4 four was rather busy. When my two older sisters weren’t dislocating my elbow or flailing me out of windows, our days were full of activities. The garage was a classroom. The staircase a hotel banister. And our brother a dress-up doll.

Every day was great until the “other friends” decided to make an appearance. These intruders would just show up out of the blue and steal my sister away for hours. And the worst part was, I couldn’t even see them, let alone watch “Arthur” with them. What kind of friends ignore the existence of five other people? It was beyond puzzling.

To this day, I remain envious of everyone who had an imaginary friend. I think the young me would have been an excellent candidate for this breed of companion. I love transporting myself to other realities, whether that be through a fantastical book or an episode of “Jeopardy”. Imagining what everything could be like in a different world is fun and harmless. It’s for this reason that I often find myself engaged in the “what if” game.

What if we didn’t have majors? Well, I guess we could all stop complaining about not being able to take the classes we want. Bonus. What if there weren’t any desks? Easy one. We’d just sit “indian” style on the floor and absorb knowledge. That doesn’t change anything. What if visually-challenged people lived without glasses? Welcome to my nightmare.

But what if there weren’t any imaginary friends or Middle Earths? No piety or faith? What if we didn’t believe anything?

Well, for starters, you wouldn’t bother catching the bus, because promptness is a belief. You wouldn’t second-guess harassing someone wearing a Star of David, because respecting others’ faiths is a belief. You’d tell your best mate to stop bothering you with his problems because camaraderie is a belief.

Ever since my high school Theory of Knowledge teacher asked me to write a paper about one thing I believe in, and why I believe in it, I haven’t stopped questioning the validity and power of this word.

It has become so common that we appear to use it like it’s weightless. “Those gas prices are unbelievable.”

But how can it possibly be so simple when we also use “I believe” to express ourselves at an extremely deep level, and let it open up a part of ourselves to the people around us. “I believe that God has a path for me.”

Neither usage is wrong, but we tend to assume that one “means” more than the other.

Maybe someone can’t believe that gas prices are so high because they spent a year in Ecuador watching Chevron destroy the lives of countless civilians at no price to the big company. Maybe it’s incomprehensible to them that such travesties occur every day without protest. They believe in justice. They believe in truth.

We waste so much time judging other people’s beliefs that we fail to see how annoying we’re being. I do it daily. Every time I see a Sarah Palin headline I immediately judge her for her book-burning habits. This translates to immediate dislike and complete disregard for what she’s actually being recognized for. Because I don’t align with her beliefs, I write her off as some lunatic who doesn’t deserve my attention.

This is anything but productive. It’s not an easy thing, separating belief from opinion, but its being done every day. NPR’s “This I Believe” program gives people a chance to broadcast their beliefs for the country to hear. Listening to people open up their hearts to the public, addressing issues from baseball to poverty, is empowering and liberating. It makes me want to stand up on the nearest stage and declare what I believe.

And I should. We all should. It’s our duty to make who we are known, to share the things that inspire and liberate us. Even if you’ve known someone for 15 years, they may not have a clue about what you actually believe.

We’re always being told that the future rests in our hands. A potentially destroyed earth and divided world will soon be our responsibilities. If we don’t even know what our roommates believe, how are we going to become the generation that fixes everything? It takes faith and understanding among members of a population to create change. It’s time for our passions to be heard. This is what we believe.

MAYA MAKKER is busy changing the world on her imaginary friend’s Apple iPad. Tell her you believe in Steve Jobs at mgmakker@ucdavis.edu.


  1. Maya you takes me back to my days as 4years old.You are not the first one for abstract visualising. We need to recognise our spiritual assignments.It is bliss thereafter.You write very well,I am impressed.ND uncle

  2. excellent article.

    Ecuador is a wonderful place, you should visit sometime. Or send your imaginary friend there and she’ll tell you about it.

    congrats on this new column.

    the CoHoisBOMB is here to stay, that, I believe.


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