Dan Gediman believes that the stories of others can change the world.
Gediman began his own story by collecting the “personal philosophies of remarkable men and women” into a book called This I Believe. Seven years later, This I Believe II is new student program’s first-year read.
Gediman kicked off this year’s UD Speaker Series Sept. 12. Starting with a short history lesson, Gediman described that the first radio broadcast of “This I Believe” was in the 1950s with host Edward R. Morrow.
“The original broadcast was an attempt to ease the minds of citizens during a time of tension during the Cold War era,” Gediman said. “After every war America becomes this paranoid state. The news media wanted to come up with a way to take the attention off the communism.”
In 2004, Gediman founded This I Believe, Inc., as an independent organization. Gediman took the original meaning of the broadcast’s mission and applied it to the generation of the 2000s.
“The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own,” Gediman said.
Gediman’s own radio show was on-air from 2005 to 2009 and was replaced by a public radio show with host Bob Edwards. Books, audio books and recordings soon followed the show. Now they receive essays from people in India, China and South Korea. Naming a favorite story is difficult, he said.
“There have been many over the years that have struck something personal within me,” Gediman said. “I think it changes depending on where I am in my own life personally. For instance, the essays about fatherhood didn’t strike me until I had kids of my own, and the stories about losing parents didn’t connect with me until I lost my own parents. The essays come from people from all walks of life, and you can’t understand a lot of them until you reach that part of your own life. I think that’s part of the magic of This I Believe.”
Gediman encouraged the audience to work on stories of their own.