This I Believe

Zak - Chesterfield, Missouri
Entered on August 27, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Vague memories surface in my mind (as I entered the threshold of cognition) of that wide face contorted in confusion. The kid was nearly twice my size in both directions, and yet it was my pee running down his leg into his shoes. There were no words exchanged, no glances or gestures fired. I just peed on him. Why did I feel the need to soak his leg in my urine? Was I standing up for my brother, who the kid had bullied earlier that day? Or was I simply fighting for superiority?

Wolves once roamed across most of the West, traveling in packs, each with their own territory. They were the top tier of predator. One day, after the buffalo were long gong and the elk were hunted to near extinction, man wondered where all the game had gone. With one hand, he pointed accusingly at the wolves, the “unnatural predator” which decimated entire populations; the other hand hid the gun behind his back. Why did he hate the wolves? What made him reflect his own inferiority on this animal?

Sports were my proving ground through elementary school and high school. A natural affinity for athletics had allowed me to play most games with sudden ease. There was no certain type of ball that I would avoid; no sport that went un-tasted. They were all the same to me, each a variation of another game, as though they had all sprung from some common ancestor. Why did I play so many different sports? Did I play any of them simply to play them? Or did I only play them to win the game?

Reservations began to form in the United States as the Europeans spread across America. The Native Americans, the original inhabitants of the Americas, were herded to these unwanted lands that diminished each year. Why were they driven out of their own land? Why were they marched across that Trail of Tears? What made the Europeans conquer? African Americans were enslaved by the Europeans for three and a half centuries. They were the filth of society, no more brethren to the great white race than the oxen of the fields. Even after they were freed from their captivity in the Civil War, they remained the same in all aspects but title. Why did the Europeans treat them so? Did they not know they too were human? What made the Europeans conquer?

Now I am an aspiring writer and philosopher. I devour books – shelves upon shelves of books could never sate my hunger – bringing their knowledge into mine, increasing the territory of my mind. The most important thing that I have learned: Rome was a great civilization at its pinnacle, bursting with culture and knowledge, but still just a collection of its parts. In the end, it was only a civilization of conquest, of other civilizations. I sign my name here grudgingly.