This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women is a best selling collection of essays named after the radio program of the same name, started in 1951 by Edward Murrow. The editors decided to bring the concept back 50 years after it ended, inviting people from all walks of life to post essays online about their core beliefs.
This is not my essay.
But I find the collection interesting and useful. It’s a good read, with over 80 perspectives. There’s even an app for that, with 65,000 essays now available on your iPhone. The rules are interesting as well. Be positive. Avoid dogma. Focus on one idea.
For Sarah Adams that one idea is “Be Cool to the Pizza Dude.” Adams, an English professor at Olympic College writes clearly and expressively about this philosophy of life. Her essay shimmers with generosity and perspective. This is, among other things, a practice in empathy, she writes, grateful for the fact that when she had such a job she didn’t have to share her Cheerios with the cat.
Coolness to the pizza dude requires her to be humble and forgiving, honoring the virtue of work itself and the equality of all peoples. Tip the pizza dude, she advises, “for that which you bestow freely and willingly will bring you all the happy luck that a grateful universe knows how to return.”
That sounds like dogma to me. Karma anyway.
And there’s more. Unlike the greedy executive, the pizza dudes “sleep the sleep of the just” she insists.
Unfortunately her pizza dude is at least as likely to be greedy as the executive, he just lacks the power to harm as many people. She may be forgiving when he cuts her off in traffic, but that sort of proves my point. Our fallenness betrays us all.
I’ve got nothing against pizza guys. I want to be as forgiving and as gracious toward them as I can be. Being cool to the pizza dude can be and should be a discipline of life; for Adams he is clearly a device for remembering how important kindness is.
But in the end her ideals are rooted in her dogma.
They always are.