This I Believe

Katie - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on November 20, 2006

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Adults always advise children not to believe rumors. Everyone recalls the expression, “You can’t believe everything you hear.” However, the reason behind this guidance remains cloudy.

I believe in looking above rumors and accusations. America, the land where everyone stays “innocent until proven guilty,” shares this ideology.

I believe in thinking the best of everyone. Hearing gossip about others makes this difficult, but all the more necessary. Multiple rumors exist in my school about people who use drugs. Upon speaking to an acquaintance, I learned that he believed that two of my friends used drugs. I could not comprehend this entirely false accusation. He knew nothing about them and yet he accused them of using drugs. Luckily I halted this rumor from spreading. If it continued to diffuse, many others would possess false information and would form incorrect impressions of my two friends. My acquaintance should not reveal such beliefs without proper evidence. By supplying claims about others, he adds to the difficulty of believing the best of everyone.

I know the naiveté of regarding everyone as innocent of every piece of gossip that others spread about them. I believe in the importance of attempting to do this anyway. By believing everything that others utter about someone, the possibility of missing out on a worthwhile friendship increases. Citing the previous example, upon hearing news that my friends used drugs, others’ desires to become friends with them would decrease. Because these people allowed themselves to succumb to the temptation of accepting gossip as truth, they would lose the opportunity to obtain two great friends.

I believe in the value of not molding impressions of a person without getting to know him or her. Perhaps the gossiper misinterpreted the information or decided to recite false statements. The diffusion of fictitious information causes the listener to become closed-minded and to form impressions about the person, without basing them on personal experience. I admit that I remain guilty of this myself. However, I realize the benefits of not accepting all I hear as fact and not forming opinions of others based on rumors. I try to look above all of that.

Although, people belittle one of my best friends, he proved himself as a caring individual. Gladly, I rejected the complaints of others, or I would not possess the excellent friendship I value. Despite the criticisms of his rudeness, I see him as a caring individual. Perhaps some of these detractors rejected the opportunity to familiarize themselves with him. Maybe they succumbed to the temptation of accepting the rumors and complaints of others as truth. Or, maybe, they erred by judging him based on a first impression or one unpleasant experience. I pity these people. They lack a kind and caring friend.

I believe in thinking the best of others and maintaining the opportunities for meeting exceptional people and creating lasting friendships. Everyone needs a friend. This is the explanation I will bestow upon curious children when they inquire as to why, “You can’t believe everything you hear.”