This I Believe

David - Albany, Georgia
Entered on February 23, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family

I believe that family is the most important aspect of life. It is the basis for growth and one thing that sets humans apart from other species. Family brings people together and has been valued worldwide for centuries. It is no coincidence that entire nations have been run by a single clan, with each successor coming from within the immediate family. In America, especially, loyalty within the family is valued. The same two families have run the executive branch in American government for almost two decades, with the potential for even more if Hilary Clinton plays her cards right. Families are often involved in business together, forming a financial bond to supplement the existing emotional bonds. What all great civilizations have in common is the realization of family connections, not just genetically but emotionally and spiritually.

The first time I realized how important family truly is, I was at the ripe age of nine. Like many children at that time, I believed myself to be invincible. From wild jumps across couches to frenzied bicycle races, anything prohibited and dangerous had to be tried once. My passionate love for heights and risk-taking culminated in a tree-climbing contest at one of our monthly family gatherings. In spite of my apparent lack of competition, I couldn’t wait to be the first person to reach the top of the highest maple in the backyard. So I raced fervently to the trunk of the tree as my family continued to barbecue and chew the fat amongst themselves. But by the time my diminutive frame reached the upper tier of branches, my confidence had faltered, and I was hanging from a particularly unsteady branch by one arm. Naturally, I shrieked fiercely, gradually lost my grip, and fell, despite my parents’ best efforts to rescue me. The entire extended family immediately went to work to try to assuage my pain. My aunt propped me up on her lap and sang a rather effectual lullaby. My father, recently out of medical school, assessed the damage and prescribed a tactfully placed bag of ice to ease my swelling forearm. My mother wisely kissed each one of my scrapes and bruises, miraculously alleviating much of the pain. In an attempt to console me, or perhaps to bring the attention back to her, my sister of seven years old joined in the relentless bawling. Others also contributed to the situation, bringing me toys, food, and bandages.

Eventually, I stopped screaming just long enough to realize what was unfolding around me: a large horde of relatives all working together tirelessly and selflessly, simply to tend to my half-fabricated injury. Then, I realized that families have a special bond–a bond that clenches its members together into a tightly knit group. This bond is nigh unbreakable, lasting for a lifetime. It is so much more than just a group of people linked by blood. Family is the everlasting feeling that you belong. Family is love.