In journalism and in life, it helps to believe in a few things:

I believe in long answers to short questions. I believe that each question raises more questions. I believe that wisdom consists mostly of raising more questions than others do. I believe there is no higher vocation than trying to understand.

I believe that people confuse clarity with simplicity. I believe that sometimes things are perfectly clear, but rarely are they simple. I believe that simple solutions are never right enough to be useful.

I sometimes believe that it’s Us versus Them, but then I remind myself that Us is all of us.

I believe that short, pithy statements are all well and good, but useless if taken alone. I believe that, eventually, all slogans become lies.

I believe that faith unchallenged is weakness. I believe that unquestioning faith raises walls rather than breaking them down. I believe that unquestioning belief is a kind of blindness.

I believe that truth is often painful, but learning is a glorious thing. I believe that, just as we exult in the physical exertion of sport, we can exult in the psychic pain of learning and improvement. I believe that correcting someone is a sign of respect. I believe that it is respectful to believe someone capable of learning and worthy of our help. I believe that we should embrace correction from others.

I believe that we are wrong more often than we are right, and even if we’re not, we should act as if we were.

I believe we should be proud to be wrong, and prouder still to stand corrected. I believe we grow when we share—and bare—the shame of our ignorance, and cast it off by degrees. I believe the greatest tribute we can pay to another is to admit that they are right about something.

I believe that the answer to intolerance is dialogue. I believe that the answer to foolish talk is more talk. I believe that, as long as we keep talking, anything is possible.

I believe that anger is not aggression, that opposition is not enmity. I believe that we can destroy an argument without destroying someone’s dignity. I believe that attacking another person is an attack on oneself.

I believe that dialogue without disagreement is dishonest. I believe that silence is a sign of distrust. I believe that the blade sharpens the blade. I believe that complacence is hubris.

I believe that respect is something we give, not something we get.

I believe that, high or low, infant or elder, myopic or muddled, people are all equally deserving of respect and consideration. I believe that, no matter what a person’s status may be, they are no more deserving than the infant or the elder. I believe that no one is too old to tease. I believe that no one is too young to be addressed respectfully, and listened to carefully.

I believe that good grammar and proper spelling are signs of respect. I believe that facts are facts and cannot be hidden. I believe that fairness is mere honesty. I believe that honesty—even in enmity—is the highest form of respect. I believe that some kinds of opposition can never be reconciled, but we should never be too sure about which ones we think they are.

I believe that the idea is greater than the person. I believe that good ideas should be accepted no matter how humble the speaker, and bad ideas rejected no matter how elevated the mind. I believe that speech without reflection is noise.

I believe that politics and diplomacy are essential human activities. I believe that politics by its very nature leads to deception, and diplomacy to duplicity. I believe that this will never change. I believe these forces can be resisted. I believe they should be. I believe that the time to leave is the day we realise that there is nothing left in us but duplicity and deception. I believe that old politicians should be given somewhere to go.

I believe that our greatest sins are committed when we believe that the world is populated by Bad guys and Good Guys. I believe that, most of the time, that narrative is just an excuse to be the Bad guy to someone else. I believe that Bad guys exist; I’m just not so sure about the Good guys.

I believe that fear is the enemy. I believe that understanding is the enemy of fear. I believe that any problem can be understood. I believe that, if a problem is too big, we need only cut it in half and solve two smaller problems. I believe that shame is a kind of fear. I believe we should be shameless—but willing to change. I believe we should not fear change.

I believe that the writer is a selfish brute for taking people’s time. I believe that writing well is the sincerest form of thanks, though. I believe that, as long as she is willing to stand corrected, the writer should never have to apologise for writing what she honestly believes to be true.

I believe that popularity is a chimera, and propriety a mask. I believe in masks.

I believe that people have the right to be wrong. I believe that everyone has the right to do stupid things occasionally. I believe that everyone does. I believe that the law should follow society, not vice versa. I believe that when we say, ‘there ought to be a law,’ we really mean, ‘people need to change.’

I believe in peace, but I believe in justice first. I believe the greatest sin a person can commit is the unjust use of power. I believe in principles over ideals. I believe you can act on a principle, but only dream about ideals. I believe in dreaming, but I believe in getting out of bed.

I believe we should never be so absolute or so earnest that we can’t laugh at ourselves and at others. I believe in making fun of everyone exactly as much as we make fun of ourselves. I believe we should all learn a funny voice, and speak in it at least once every day. I believe we all should sing.

I believe that every one of us should write a testament like this, and change it every day.