What is the forward about in the book This I Believe?

The foreword in the book This I Believe is about the pursuit of truth and the importance of community activism.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The foreword in What I Believe is by Studs Terkel, who writes that "the common tenor" of all the essays in the book is that they are concerned with the pursuit of truth. He says that what you see with your own eyes often differs from what you are told is the truth, and he quotes journalists including James Cameron, Errol Morris, and Andrew Sullivan to argue that the pursuit itself is just as significant as the attainment. This is a topic that he returns to again later in the foreword, this time citing Keats:

Maybe the poet Keats was right after all in the "Ode on a Grecian Urn." He envied the fortunate youth who is forever chasing his love, never quite catching her. The pursuit is all.

Terkel also says that he finds political labels such as "liberal" and "conservative" to be meaningless and is uncertain about religious labels as well (which is why he considers himself an agnostic).

Finally, Terkel talks about activism. He says that his own idea of political and social activism was formed during the Great Depression by the scenes of hardship he witnessed and the communities in which people helped each other. He paraphrases Albert Einstein, saying that people in Western countries often believe that you lose your freedom by joining a group but that actually, the reverse is the case. It is when people come together and act together that they discover their strength. The foreword concludes with the thought

So, my credo consists of the pursuit and the act. One without the other is self-indulgence. This I believe.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on