This I Believe

William - San Diego, California
Entered on September 25, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that the future is our responsibility and not that of our children.

I grew up as an American in a Palestinian household. I do not speak Arabic, but I know how to cook. I am often reserved in my words, but when I do speak I say what’s on my mind. I can count my good friends on one hand, but I could only count a small fraction of my family with my fingers and my toes.

Although I was exposed to the fleeting fascinations of the American media at school, there was only one story to be heard at home – the Middle East.

Since as long ago as I can remember my father has made daily speeches about alleged injustices against our people. He laments the Palestinian refugees, castigates the international negligence of poverty and suffering, and pontificates the virtues that should be held by world leaders and their people. He regularly delves through international media sites, finding bits of information for which no average American would have the time of day to search. My father is a swirling tempest of information and opinions without actions.

I remember a story my high school psychology teacher once told about a girl who was raped on a city sidewalk surrounded by crowded apartment buildings. Although people heard and saw her, no one did anything to help. Everyone assumed that someone else would. The rapist left, returned, raped her again and then stabbed her to death.

“If you don’t assume responsibility in a situation,” my teacher told the class, “no one else will.”

One college degree and dozens of medical school applications later, I have decided that it’s my responsibility to help the Middle East and its people. I would not be so narcissistic to presume that I can amend everything that is wrong, but I will do my best. I want to build hospitals and establish healthcare services in the deprived regions. I want to bring hope to those whose faith was wavering. I want to do this because it is my responsibility. I believe we all have a responsibility to work ourselves to the limits of our potential. I believe we all must work for a better future.

My father was not meant to solve the crises in the Middle East single-handedly. Occupied with providing for one beautiful and caring wife, two blessed and privileged children, and a great behemoth of an extended family, he may only stretch his capabilities so far. However he raised me with his ideas and his values, and I am ready to take on the world. I believe that it is my generation that will change the future for the better, and I believe that the next generation should feel the same.