This I Believe

Brittany - Inverness, Illinois
Entered on May 18, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in one’s own ability to control one’s own fate.

More often then not, we are presented with the ideas of destiny and fate, and that our lives are pretty much predetermined. That, more often than not, those who are born into poverty will remain in poverty, those who were once suppressed will remain suppressed, or those who have made mistakes cannot change. This false belief that idealizes the impossibility to change what “should be” has crippled the majority of our world, and has actually served to confirm this idea through self fulfilling prophecy.

Those who are born in poverty remain in poverty, not because they lack the ability to change, but they lack the will to change. Unfortunately, society has placed the belief in our heads that one cannot ask for much more than one is given; that we have to accept our fate and run with it. If the family living in the Robert Taylor homes of Chicago took a five mile trip outside of its poverty-stricken boundaries, they would be presented with hundreds, possibly thousands of sources of opportunity to aid them in their escape from their situation. The blame is on society for limiting the potential of certain individuals by placing them in restricting areas, but also on the family for surrendering to society’s high standards.

As a little girl, I remember taking a trip to visit my relatives in Indiana. On a corner, there was a man begging for change in front of a McDonald’s with a “Now Hiring” sign openly displayed in the front window. Then I would have questioned why my father didn’t hesitate to pass him and his jingling cup, but now I realize that it was because the man was busy begging, and ignoring opportunity presented right in front of him. All that he had to do was turn around, open the door, and apply for a job. Excluding rare circumstances, that man could have possibly turned away from that McDonald’s with a job awaiting him in about a week—after all, he wasn’t going anywhere.

When I go to Chicago every weekend, I see the same people on the same corners, doing the same thing—begging to barely get by, if at all; people sitting in front of businesses, lacking not the ability to change, but the will to change, even though it has been done. Chris Gardner, of whom the recent film “The Pursuit of Happiness,” was inspired by, acquired a brutally competitive internship from poverty, so what makes everyone else different?

Using the example of poverty in our streets today helps to communicate the point that “destiny” as we like to call it, is really self fulfilling prophecy. People act the way they act, remain in their less desirable positions, or find themselves unable to change not because they lack the ability, but because they lack the will to do so. Change only requires will, not the mistake of destiny.