This I Believe

Megan - Gainesville, Florida
Entered on March 15, 2007

This I believe. When I first heard this series on the radio I felt deeply moved and inspired. It wasn’t until I sat down and tried to write my own essay that I realized the vagueness of what I truly believed.

This thought then began to affect me. I struggled to define what it was that drove me. As a college graduate still lost about what to do in life, I realized the answer to this question could help me focus on the direction of my future. I came up with several ideas, but when I tried to put them into words they scattered all over the paper. It wasn’t until a week or so later on my first trip to New York City that something clicked.

It almost seemed like a matter of fate. I was riding the subway gazing at the lights that quickly sped by and the array of people standing all around me. Then I noticed an advertisement for teaching in high-need schools in NYC. The advertisement read “you could hold the key to another’s door to success.” Immediately I became interested although I couldn’t pinpoint the reason I would want to teach in the dirty, forbidden areas of NYC. Within the same moment I sat down and took out my current read, the Catcher in the Rye. I got to a paragraph that froze me, that summed up my belief in one beautiful thought. I believe in catching those that fall. As Salinger wrote, “I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.” And this is what I believe. Many people are heading for a cliff and many of these people just hope that someone is there to stop them. If people have stumbled or fallen, some will just sit there. I believe in the power to hold a hand out for these people. I believe that everyone deserves a chance to be caught and that if you are up, your ability to help those who have fallen is more powerful than you know.

This is why the teaching job seemed appealing. Many of the students in these high-need schools are struggling to get up. They need a hand. It isn’t always easy, but everyone has the ability to help others. And while part of me believes that everyone is capable of doing it on their own, another part of me realizes that some wait for encouragement to get up. This belief, however, does not require you to cure cancer, save Darfur, or even teach at an inner city school. Simple gestures can be more momentous than you think. So, reach out for the fallen. Who knows, if you don’t help them, they might not ever get up.