This I Believe

Lynette - Portland, Oregon
Entered on August 7, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that in the face of global crisis, the ability to do something becomes the most valuable thing in the world. I believe that when you stop watching and start acting, you go from hoping for something better to actually making better things happen. I believe that the salvation of humanity is possible, but only through the hearts and hands of humans.

I am inheriting a frightening world. As a sophomore in high school I felt the trauma of Columbine. My first semester of college was sobered by 9/11 and the following semesters kept that way by the War in Iraq. Within three months of graduating and taking my first steps into the “real world” my already bruised heart was broken wide open by the horror of Katrina. Last week I turned 23 to yet more war and extremism in the Middle East and yet more record heat across the United States.

There aren’t many certainties for me, but the ones I do have are not often positive. I am sure that climate change is happening and will dramatically affect my life, that the oil is indeed running out, and that Social Security will not be around by the time I need it.

You might wonder how I can live with this perspective and still profess belief in the capacity of humanity to save itself.

The simple answer is that I have to. I do not have the luxury of being able to shake my head gravely while dispassionately saying “Well, we’re doomed.” My life is ahead of me, and come what may I cannot separate my personal future from that of the world. Working for miracles, in some ways, is just a matter of survival right now.

The better answer though, the most true one, relies on something deeper than belief. It relies on knowledge.

Maybe it is something that people forget as they age or maybe it is something that most never realize, but as I stand here on the edge of the beginning of my life I am keenly, even frighteningly, aware of something. My future is created by my decisions in the present. Any great success or failure that will ever befall me hinges on what I choose in this moment and the next and the next. In my bones I know that this is true for us as a planet too.

Either we act and build on our collective dreams of justice, compassion, peace, and love, or we fail. This simple choice has always been presented to us, but never has it been so clear. It is not certain that we will choose it now, but I don’t know if we have ever had more reason to do so.

This isn’t a matter of “can we” but of “will we.” Though it is a terrifying thing to be young right now, there is no other place I would rather be than here, being part of that choice for a future.