This I Believe

Susan - Rochester, New York
Entered on September 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the inherent goodness of others.

If someone had ever asked me, at any point in my life, “Do you believe humans are ultimately good or bad?” I would tell the person about the behaviors I view whenever I walk out the door. I see people holding the doors open for others and if someone’s hands are full, I witness others going out of their way to open a door open. I see people helping others pick things up when they drop them. I’ve seen people instinctively pausing to ask someone who looked upset if they’re okay. At my job as a cashier I see people letting the person behind them with only one item go ahead of them in line. Additionally I’ve had people returning cell phones they’ve found and once even giving me a lost credit card in case the person came back. I see things like this happening all around me, every day.

I’m not the only one who’s seen things like this. One day my father came home and told us what he had witnessed: Earlier that day, my father and a few co-workers went out to lunch together. They went to an inexpensive little family type restaurant where they ate their meals and talked. Towards the end of their meal they noticed the waitress at a nearby table that held a rather poor looking couple, one of whom seemed mentally handicapped and the other who seemed like the care taker. The waitress informed the couple that their bill had already by taken care of by a man who had left minutes before. The part that really touched me was that the man did it to be nice. He didn’t do it for the gratitude of the couple, because he left before they realized. He did it because he realized that human beings are more important then money and that it was a good thing to do.

A few months after this story took place, was when I really started thinking about the nature of humans. This was when, instead of just relaxing my last week of Christmas break, some of my peers and I, from my university went on a volunteer trip. We stayed in one of the poorer sections of Philadelphia and everyday went out to places like soup kitchens and poor city schools to volunteer our help. One of the most memorable places for me was the soup kitchen for homeless men. What really got through to me was that despite the fact that these men were homeless, they were a lot more pleasant than a lot of well off people are. They smiled and chatted with us; teasing us about the fact that we paid to volunteer to help people (I hadn’t noticed the irony there before it was pointed out to me). No shopping spree or movie has ever stood out in my mind the way that this day has; especially when it comes to recalling that good feeling that occurs in the pit of the stomach.

These are just small scale things I’ve witnessed. Then there are things like, Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami and 9/11. After disasters such as these relief funds are started. (With millions of dollars pouring in, not just from companies, but individual people all around the world; People donating their hard earned money to strangers, people that they have never met and probably never will.)

Money and clothes aren’t the only things people donate to strangers. Blood, kidneys and other organs are donated too. After death people also donate hearts, livers etc. I read one story on the news about an 18 year old girl who was next on the donor list for a liver and when asked if she was willing to donate a part of that liver to a baby said yes without pause. This would mean more time on medications and a longer probation period with a bigger chance for infections and the body rejecting it, but she still said yes without pause.

People are inherently good. This is what I believe.