This I Believe

Hali - Tucson, Arizona
Entered on May 19, 2007

I believe that inaction is a form of fear, and fear is a result of ignorance. Knowledge eliminates ignorance, which in turn dispels fear. I am fifteen years old and afraid of many things: dying young, becoming my mother, and losing someone I love. I have spent most of my young life trying to think of ways to prevent these things from happening.

I lived the first thirteen years of my life like that, trapped by the fear of what people would think of me if I succeeded. Then I began to learn about my family’s history. My grandfather was on disability his whole life because of his back problems and his life had gone nowhere by the age of forty-eight, so a few months ago, he committed suicide. He had supported my grandma for a while until she moved out. After he died, she resorted to pleading with strangers who would read her cardboard signs—that I was forced to help make—and offer her some spare change for alcohol. She’s now in the hospital on life support for sclerosis of the liver and alcohol-induced dementia. My mom is a single mother with six kids on welfare barely getting by because she dropped out of high school. I realize that as much as I love all of them I don’t want to turn out like any of my family. I also realize that the only way I can prevent my life from taking a turn for the worse is to educate myself enough to break the cycle my family has found itself in.

If knowledge can dispel ignorance, of which fear is a symptom, and if inaction is a form of fear, can’t we say that knowledge dispels inaction and is a vehicle for positive change? I have recently taken an interest in World History. My dream is to be a 9th grade World History teacher. I have learned to relate my favorite subject to my life. If we don’t want great tragedies in history to repeat themselves, we must learn where we have erred as a species and what course of action we need to take to stop such events from occurring again. If I don’t want to see repeated the great tragedies in my own family’s history, I must learn where they erred and what I need to do to stop them from occurring in my life. I believe it is true, as George Santayana once said, that those “who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.