I believe in human potential. It doesn’t matter which, or how it’s applied. Human potential is seen every day in human existence. Humans, as individuals, and as bodies, have enormous potential. Potential to do many things.
What exactly is human potential? Well, it’s a rather difficult idea to explain. Humans are interesting beings. In our lives, humans do many things. Some huge, some small, some life changing. Human potential I define as the capability of every human on earth to do those things. Whether it be big or small, important or meaningless, all fall under the category of the guiding principal of human society—potential.
Can’t seen any human potential around you? Look around your city. Walk into a soup kitchen and take a look a look at the people serving. Notice the man that holds the door open for others, or that car that slows down to let you into the lane. Human potential is everywhere. Look at that black BMW that cut you off this morning, or the man who didn’t hold the elevator open on purpose. Look at the victims of the drive by on 98th and Edes. Human potential is everywhere.
One man could spend his entire day helping others in the International Red Cross, and then turn around that very night and look up a 16 year old girl on Myspace. Or, a 16 year old girl could spend her entire day telling her sister and her friends the danger of Myspace, and then turn right around and not donate blood. A man could kill someone earlier in the day, and then bring groceries to his sick mother at night. Or a student could give out their study guide for one test, and then cheat on the next. This is human potential. This author is just as capable of rambling for pages on end, and not convincing you or having you understood a darn thing as he is writing a short succinct essay and having you get exactly what he means. This is human potential.
And so, as humans, we are capable of both great and terrible things. In our times of greatest need, humans never fail to rise to the occasion. In the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina our nation rose up as one in such a fashion rarely seen in today’s world. In the aftermath and chaos of the Iraq war Iraqis donned military uniforms that had once stood for terror, and used then for police uniforms. They cleaned out piles of dusty rubble that had once stood for houses, and buried stiff, bloody figures that had once stood for someone else’s loved ones.
Of course, this same race has also committed mass genocide from Darfur to Colombia. This same race has branded other humans with gold stars that stood for Jews, shackles that stood for slaves, or brand names that stood for sweatshops.
I, as a human, do not believe that I need to place my faith in any one type of potential. To overlook the bad and see the good is to turn a blind eye to what you as a human are capable of. Of course, to overlook the good and see the bad is equally as blind. Humans are capable of anything they set their mind to, from curing disease to genocide. Whether good or bad, human potential is the single most important thing in human society, and for that reason, for whatever reason, I feel the need to believe in it. I believe that someone is just as capable as committing unspeakable evil and they are the most selfless act of good. I believe I as a person, or we as a generation, or we as a nation, or we as a world are capable of absolutely anything and everything. This, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.