This I Believe

Jason - Maple City, Michigan
Entered on November 20, 2006

It Can Happen

I’d been warned many times. He was different. He was a liar. He was not normal. These were all forewarnings from people who didn’t try to know him. All I saw was a second grade boy full of potential. He had a young, delicate face with deep eyes that screamed vulnerability. He was shy, lacked social skills, and was submissive and timid while faced with choices. The aim and objective of Big Pals was and still is to help. I was a Big Pal, and I wanted to help.

Accordingly, I took this young boy, spent time with him, and we talked. We laughed and I became what he needed – a friend. His boundaries needed to be addressed and enforced, and his passions needed to be fueled. Throughout the span of nine months, I met with him one day per week. Throughout that time, I challenged him, made him face difficult situations and forced him to believe in himself and his abilities. His frame of mind was shifting; he had become incredibly positive.

Just when his full potential was in view, he found himself in a very compromising position. He was in the wrong place at the right time. One of his classmates decided to cheat on a test by glancing over and copying down the answers he had previously written. When my Little Pal realized, he leaned over to tell the boy to stop cheating. Just then, his teacher caught him in the act of telling the boy to stop, thereby assuming he was in fact the cheater. Due to the nature of his previous bad habits, he was a very easy person to target for this form of academic dishonesty. Realizing there was no possible way to convince the authority otherwise, he made a decision like an adult. He went to the boy who had been cheating off of his test, and told him he would take the blame this time, but he would tell if it happened again. This boy, in his past, would have unpredictably handled this situation. That day, instead, he stood poised and confident and made a very difficult decision. I attributed his newfound confidence to our friendship.

The belief in another requires involvement. By realizing the potential in people and challenging that potential, we not only raise confidence, but ability and awareness as well. There came an inevitable point when my involvement was no longer needed. He had taken the skills I had taught, and applied them in a real-life situation.

It is more important to realize that it can be done, than to accept that it can’t. To realize that all people have the potential to do good things and make good decisions gives us optimism. We can be optimistic, that individually, everyone in the world has the potential to do good things. All it takes is the belief in one another to inspire change. This I believe.