This I Believe

Toney - Beaumont, Texas
Entered on August 28, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

When I was a child I remember people always saying things like “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” or “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” No one says that anymore. Today everyone seems to have accepted that it’s ok to place physical beauty as a paramount quality. Everyone always talks about how they want plastic surgery, liposuction, a face-lift, breast augmentation, collagen injections, botox injections … Now it’s ok to be consumed with appearance. It’s ok to be shallow. This is the lesson reality television teaches us several times a night, 365 nights a year, across a diaspora of channels. We learn the lesson on Big Brother, Survivor, and countless other clones that shifting alliances, unfaithfulness, and outright lieing are simply means to an end.

And no one talks about changing the world anymore. Those who do are ridiculed as being simple or naive. They have not yet learned our lessons. They probably don’t watch Survivor or Big Brother. They are strange and somewhat foreign.

Don’t they know — we won the cold war. Our side won, with its belief that anyone can be rich, that the market place is the place to be, that selfishness is another form of justice, that we don’t need to try to change the world. All we have to do is want things. For only ourselves. There is no need to share; the market will sort it all out in the end. As long as someone will work for minimum wage then it’s ok that its far below the poverty line. After all, it’s ok to be selfish. Isn’t that what we’re all about?

I believe that the world and the majority of its people are condemned to live in a despairing and shallow society, built upon paradigms of inequity, and cursed with the casual violence wrought by greed, poverty, and despair. I believe that we will have more 9/11’s, Columbines, Iraqi insurrections, Middle-East conflicts, Taliban’s, and third-world sweat shops. All of these problems will continue and repeat in one altered form or another for many years to come. The day it will stop will be the same day when a majority of Americans believe that it’s ok to change the world, that it’s even a desirable thing. And that a person’s particular church, mosque or temple is immaterial.

I believe that it’s up to each and every individual to try to change the world. I believe that it’s up to us to save us. And I believe that we will have to try. We will have to try much harder than we have in the past. And we will have to stop watching so much reality television and stop getting so much plastic surgery. And to not be so concerned with converting our neighbors.

I believe the world is ripe for change. And I believe that it’s up to us to change it.