Unidentified Man #1: I believe in mystery.
Unidentified Woman: I believe in family.
Unidentified Man #2: I believe in being who I am.
Unidentified Man #3: I believe in the power of failure.
Unidentified Man #4: And I believe normal life is extraordinary.
Unidentified Man #5: This I Believe.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Today, for our series, This I Believe, we have an essay sent to us by listener Laura Shipler Chico.
Chico is a social worker. She specializes in trauma recovery. And later this week, she's expecting to become a new mother.
Here's our series curator, independent producer Jay Allison.
JAY ALLISON: Until recently, Laura Shipler Chico and her husband lived and worked in Rwanda, bringing together genocide survivors and perpetrators for the reconciliation process. She said that experience informed her beliefs, not in a broadly humanitarian context, but in her specific hopes for her baby.
Here's Laura Shipler Chico with her essay for This I Believe.
Ms. LAURA SHIPLER CHICO (Social Worker): I am pregnant. In the brief moments between dramatic dashes to the bathroom and just as dramatic raids of the refrigerator, I sometimes sit and philosophize about what kind of person I would like to bring into this world.
If we had to boil it down to three basic personality traits, I asked my husband, what would they be?
I thought if I could name those three qualities, I could identify my own belief about what I value most. Just three, because I figured we'd be lucky to even get those, given our limited control over whoever pops out.
Honesty, he said, without hesitating. That was first on my list, too. I believe when you're honest, you're less likely to end up in jail. And when you're honest, you're willing to take the harder path sometimes, and so you're always pushing yourself to grow. And when you're honest, people trust you, and so soon you start to trust yourself. And when you can really trust yourself, I believe that that is the foundation for all the rest.
After a pause, I said, caring about other people. I mean, honesty all on its own can be a bit harsh, but when an honest person cares about other people, that's a powerful combination. When you care about other people, you're hopefully not as likely to land in jail and more likely to become a responsible world citizen. You're less likely to be mean and more likely to have deep friendships. And when you care about other people, they tend to care about you, and pretty soon you start to care about you, too. Oh, and I almost forgot, when you care about other people, you are more likely to know how to really love, and how to be loved back.
Now, for the third, this was harder. This was when we started to get greedy, as though having a baby at all, and then having a healthy baby, and then having a healthy baby that grew up into an honest, caring person wasn't enough. A long list of qualities vied for our vote - industrious, adventurous, creative, smart, kind, playful and so on. But most of the qualities could still be traced back to our first two or, if not, they seemed less fundamental somehow.
And then I remembered what my grandmother taught my father and my father taught me. You should always be able to laugh at yourself. I believe if you can laugh at yourself, it probably means you like yourself deep down inside, and you know that you're no better and you're no worse than anybody else. You'll probably have fun in life. And most importantly, you're more likely to forgive yourself when you're not always honest and you're not always caring.
And finally, we thought, even if you do land in jail, at least you can laugh at your own stupidity for getting caught.
ALLISON: Laura Shipler Chico with her essay for This I Believe.
Chico told us that the most resilient children she worked with in Rwanda embodied the three qualities she hopes for in her own child. She and her husband are now living in London and are expecting their baby the day after tomorrow.
We hope you will consider writing an essay for our series at npr.org/thisibelieve. You can find out more and see all the other essays that have been submitted.
For This I Believe, I'm Jay Allison.
SIEGEL: Next Sunday on WEEKEND EDITION, a This I Believe essay from listener Robin Bodier(ph) of New Orleans on her belief in strange blessings and the lessons taught by Hurricane Katrina.