This I Believe

Jacob - Whitefish, Montana
Entered on November 30, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: integrity

“This will look really good on a resume,” they always seem to tell me. Everyone wants me to join their club or organization, using the excuse that it will help me get into a college or get a job. Doing community service, getting good grades, and participating in lots of activities: they all look great on a resume. It’s important to be able to go to college, but when it comes down to it, I don’t care about how impressive these activities look on a resume. I believe in following your conscience and doing the right thing because it’s right, not because it will make you look better.

Conscience never lies. It’s that uneasy feeling that you get when you are doing something wrong and you know it. Everyone has it, but some are better at ignoring it than others. My conscience guides my actions especially, it seems, during Cross Country season. Many people have no problem skipping the hard days and taking it easy instead. Although I would like nothing better than to relax and take it easy, it isn’t the right thing. Day after day, I find myself showing up to practice and putting in the hard work. When an injury stopped me from training for a week, it was all I could do to keep from running on my own time when no one was watching. Guiding me through the week was the knowledge that if I ran, I would never recover. No matter how much you want to do something, it is always easier to live with a clean conscience than to do what you know is wrong.

At school, it’s harder than ever to do what is right. The temptations are all around you: from cheating and plagiarism to drug and alcohol use. For some, these temptations are too great, and as they give in to peer pressure, I watch helplessly as they suffer from drug abuse. An acquaintance pulled me aside one day to talk. I noticed that he had been acting strangely, but I hadn’t thought anything of it. As we walked outside on a brisk winter day, he told me that his life had become a “downward spiral” and he didn’t know how to stop it. I slowly learned from our conversation that he had been using cocaine and other drugs regularly. In this world, it is easy to veer off the right path if you ignore your conscience.

I believe in doing what is right. Everyone knows that doing what is right is usually harder than doing what is not right. Even so, I have seen the consequences of acting out of expediency and doing what seems to be easier and more fun. The people who follow those paths have struggled, and the rest of their lives have been more difficult as a result. On the other hand, those who are responsible and do what is right always seem to benefit in the end. I believe in following your conscience because your conscience never lies.