Unidentified Man: This I Believe.


On Mondays, we bring you This I Believe, our series of statements of personal belief. Today, we hear from Victor Hanson. He's a scholar of the classics and the military, a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and a part-time farmer. Here's our series curator, independent producer Jay Allison.

JAY ALLISON reporting:

Victor Hanson lives in central California on the fruit farm his great-great-grandparents homesteaded in 1870. Outside his kitchen window are 40 acres planted with Thompson seedless grapes that will go to market as raisins. It is in this house and on this land that he finds the source of his conviction. Here is Victor Hanson with his essay for This I Believe.

Mr. VICTOR HANSON: I believe we are not alone. Even if I am on the other side of the world from the farmhouse I live in, I still dream of the ancient vines out the window and the shed out back that my grandfather's father built in 1870 with eucalyptus trunks. As long as I can re-create these images, I never quite leave home. I don't think farming in the same place for six generations is a dead weight that keeps you shackled doing the identical thing year in and year out. Instead, it is a rare link to others before me who pruned the same vines and painted the same barn that I have. If those in this house survived the panic of 1893 or the Great Depression or bathed with cold water and used an outhouse, then surely I know I can weather high gas prices.

I believe that all of us need some grounding in our modern world of constant moving, buying, selling, meeting and leaving. Some find constancy in religion. Others lean on friends or community for permanence, but we need some daily signpost that we are not novel, not better, not worse from those who came before us. For me, this house, this farm, these ancient vines are those roots. Although I came into this world alone and will leave alone, I'm not alone. There are ghosts of dozens of conversations in the hallways, stories I remember about buying new plows that now rust in the barnyard and ruined crops on the same vines that we are now harvesting.

I belive all of us are natural links in a long chain of being. I need to know what time of day it is, what season is coming, whether the wind is blowing north or from the east and if the moon is still full tomorrow night just as the farmers who came before me did. The physical world around us changes constantly. Human nature does not. We must struggle in our brief existence to find some transcendent meaning during re-occurring heartbreak and disappointment and so find solace in the knowledge that our ancestors have all gone through this before. You may find all that too intrusive, living with the past as present. I find it exhilarating. I believe there is an old answer for every new problem, that wise whispers of the past are with us to assure us that if we just listen and remember we are not alone, we had been here before.

ALLISON: Victor Hanson of Selma, California, with his essay for This I Believe. Someday, Hanson says, he will leave the farm to his son who will be the sixth generation of the family to live in the original house there.

To find out how you can contribute to our series and to read and hear all the essays, visit our Web site, npr.org. You can also call for information, (202) 408-0300.

For This I Believe, I'm Jay Allison.

MONTAGNE: Next Monday on "All Things Considered," a This I Believe essay from public radio listener and Red Cross volunteer Debbie Hall.

This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2005 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from