This I Believe

Sarah - Decatur, Georgia
Entered on May 17, 2006

During this year’s winter Olympics, I heard a report on NPR about an ice skater, Joey Cheek, who won the gold medal in speed skating and donated his winning money to a charity that was providing relief for Darfur refugees. I am very involved with raising awareness on the Darfur genocide in my school, and when I heard his story come on the radio I was thrilled and immediately inspired. Here was this man who had just won a gold medal in the Olympics, and instead of saying how he’d worked so hard to get there and how great his coach was, he used his microphone time to educate people on a devastating un-publicized issue. He was focused on the bigger picture of human well being during a time of personal accomplishment.

I should say that one reason I was so moved by this story is because I am currently enrolled in AP US History where I am discovering that there are very few instances in history that don’t have some immoral underbelly. And in learning of such injustices, it becomes hard to see all the positive influences on the world. In the midst of government scandal and corruption and inaction, it is easy to become cynical and think, why is no one doing anything? But when an Olympic skater stands before reporters and openly calls attention to genocide when it would be acceptable to bask in his own glory, all my cynicisms are pushed aside and I believe in the goodness of all people.

I believe that there is an innate sense of commonality between people that allows us to care for one another. Even the most malicious or evil people still have shades of compassion in their nature. And when humanity as a whole is tainted with villains such as Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, it is consequently redeemed with icons such as Paul Rusesebagina, Martin Luther King, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The majority of people in this world are good-natured people, but sometimes the goodness gets over looked. Of course there are the profound peacemakers whose actions and words will continue to inspire people, but it is the simple peacemakers who get overlooked. In my life I can count many people who through simply going about their daily routine, help promote peace. It is my niece who shares her pink crayon with her brother. It is my friend who tells our peers not to use “gay” as a negative adjective. It is my mother who tells me not to gossip. It my father who drives my sisters and me to protests of the War in Iraq. It is my sister who teaches Sunday school lessons on non-discriminate love. It is my old history teacher who forced me to question everything. It is my preacher who tells our congregation that God’s love is meant for all people. It is our brothers and sisters in this world who are nothing more than themselves that generate the peaceful goodness of human nature.