This I Believe

Jasmine - Gilbert, Arizona
Entered on May 2, 2007

Power of the individual

While driving to my writing class, I was listening to an NPR podcast featuring a “This I Believe” essay. I was so moved by the piece that I decided to write one. It seemed like the perfect subject. As I thought about it a bit more, I realized that my essay would have to wait. With finals approaching, I had more pressing class assignments to complete. That evening, my teacher gave my class our final writing assignment. She told us we were going to write a “This I Believe” essay. I was so excited. This had to be more than a coincidence; surely it was a sign that I was meant to share my beliefs with the world.

Like many of you, I have a long list of things that I think we should all do to make the world a better place. It seemed like a no-brainer to write them all out. First off, I believe in always using a crosswalk. Jaywalking is dangerous to pedestrians and motorists alike—and we can all use a little more exercise in our lives. On the subject of taking a few extra steps, how about everyone agreeing to put their shopping carts away? They cause inconvenience for your fellow shoppers and store employees. Imagine how much customer service would improve if the clerks were not tired and grumpy after collecting your rogue cart from the far reaches of the parking lot. If you do get bad service, I am begging with you to remember the golden rule about doing unto others. Working in retail (serving others for a low-paying wage) is a humbling experience. Ignore the urge to sigh at the slow cashier and offer a friendly smile instead. Doing something for the benefit of another human being is not just good for them. It makes you a better person too. With this is mind, why not give more of yourself to your community? Donating blood only takes an hour of your time and saves lives. I also encourage you to make a bigger commitment and volunteer at a food bank, youth program or animal shelter.

These are the things that I believe will make the world a better place but they are not necessarily things you believe. This is where my inspiring essay runs into big trouble. I had written all the little things I believed to be important but was missing a simple truth at the heart of it. As I struggled to find a way to make my essay work, the real lesson hit me. Small actions make a big difference. Maybe you think I am crazy for insisting you put your cart away or are afraid of needles. That is OK. Find the thing that you believe in and commit to making it happen. Together we can change the world even if we do it in our own way. I believe in the power of the individual.