Probably the best class that I took at the University of California at Berkeley was a speech class from Professor Telfer. It turned out to be much more than about speechmaking.
In one of the first classes, he pointed to someone in the class, almost at random it seemed – “What religion are you?” Even today, one doesn’t pry that sharply into the internal beliefs of anyone. You don’t touch the subject of religion or politics (politics was next!) in polite society, out of the blue, like that. A student answered “Catholic”, or was it “Protestant”, I don’t remember right now, but it was one. Let’s assume the student said “Catholic”.
“Why are you a Catholic?” Telfer asked. “Are your parents Catholic?” The student said “Yes”. “Have you investigated any other religion? , he pursued further. “No” was the answer. “Don’t you think you should?” My, this class was about questioning your own beliefs, not just about speechmaking. Plus being skeptical why you hold certain beliefs.
This was going to be an interesting class!
Of course he asked another student, who turned out to be Protestant. “Are your parents Protestant?” “Yes”. “Have you investigated any other religion?” Then to another student, again randomly, it appeared, “What political party do you favor?” The student answered, say, “Republican”. “Have you investigated the other political parties?” As if that would be the natural thing for you to have done, before you accepted your parent’s political (or religious) beliefs wholesale without question, just because they were the ones they followed.
After that class, whenever someone made a statement, in my mind I felt that I could question whether it was true or not, almost automatically, in my mind, at least. And maybe do further research on the statement. How many times has it been that someone sends an email to me, and obviously to a bunch of recipients, that I have checked it out on “Snopes” or done further research on the truth of the statement, and found it wasn’t true ? I can’t count.
Professor Telfer’s class was not just about speechmaking. It was also about critical thinking.
That year at Cal was the happiest year of my young life. I felt “FREE”! and happy to have become a skeptical free thinker, enriching my later conscious life. My appreciation and gratitude go out to Professor Telfer for that upgrade to my life.
When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall – think of it, always. -Mohandas Gandhi
Instead of Violence, Intolerance, Hate, and even War Against Those Who Don’t Believe as We Do, Let’s all be friends! – Samuel Butler, 2011
First Principle of Global Ethics (First Of Ten Principles):
DIGNITY. Proclaim the natural dignity and inherent worth of all human beings.
The Third principle: TOLERANCE: Be tolerant of others’ beliefs and lifestyles.
Fifth Principle: NO DOMINATION: Do not dominate through lies or otherwise.
From another different resonating source:
“Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee. “
-From John Donne Meditation 17. “No man is an island” Written in 1624.