This I Believe

Nathaniel - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on May 17, 2006

This I Believe

I believe in stability. Be serious about goofing off. Be equally serious about being studious. Watch out for yourself as well as others. Have some passion in your life. Know also when to show restraint. Embrace change with one arm, leaving the other arm wrapped around what is familiar.

Stability is dull. There is no denying it. Alexander the Great was hardly a stable person, and he is one of history’s greatest conquerors. Abraham Lincoln was wracked with depression. Winston Churchill was viewed as old-fashioned. People we look up to for inspiration, moral guidance, and idealness are hardly ever stable individuals. But these individuals and others led us to a greater understanding of ourselves by their actions.

We learned from them that unstable people could achieve great things. We also learned that to be stable could mean being quiet, out of the way, overlooked perhaps. And one more thing: that no one is completely stable. People going about their everyday lives might suffer road rage on their way home to their loving, peaceful families. A nun may let slip a curse; an ordinary man may use violence in the heat of rage. These people are stable in some ways, unstable in others. As are we all.

Instability isn’t always bad of course. The euphoric child, jumping up and down and screaming for joy over acing her final exam is not what would be considered stable. The winning team, yelling and hugging over their triumph, wouldn’t do such a passionate thing ordinarily, at least not with a stranger. But between these two extremes of emotion lies the vast and yet tiny realm of stability. This area is where most people live out most of their lives. It isn’t bad. It isn’t good. It simply, is.

Remember that complete stability is not only thankfully impossible, but absolutely terrifying as well. George Orwell’s 1984 depicted just such society, where everything was absolutely stable, and had always been absolutely stable; Oceania is at war with East Asia. Oceania has always been at war with East Asia. Passions such as love is forbidden, save for anything that might help the party advance its permanent cause, such as hatred.

We must be grateful for being able to love with fiery passion, and to feel other such emotions, which make us humans human.

But too much of a good thing is, of course, bad for you. Romeo and Juliet certainly went off the deep end. So remember to use moderation. Live many experiences and feel many emotions, all without going so far as that a return to other things would become impossible. There are always two sides of a coin. A penny would be incomplete without the other side.