For all the years I’ve lived on this earth, I can not truly say I have gained any more wisdom than on the day I was born: I am older, and perhaps more experienced, but no different a person, and certainly no sage. But what little comprehension we all carry in our youth, that sliver of innocence and festivity, that wondrous occasion of simple humanity, I have with care retained, so that now I may recite it in words, and follow it throughout my life: I believe that mankind houses a boundless reservoir of potential, and that through an innate goodness, they may accomplish anything.
Each new challenge in my life has been met by human perseverance, and has been ultimately defeated; the inspiration to overcome, and inspiration for my beliefs, has arisen always, in the form of the great achievements of people. Knowing what we have done—knowing that man has swam to the depths of the ocean and climbed to the highest of peaks, that he has even left his footprint on the moon—is not only comforting but encouraging, liberating in the rejuvenated discovery of opportunity.
Though I can not trace its origin, nor can I explain its phenomenal occurrence, the most important thing to me is that the human capacity we all possess exists. I have admitted my weakness; I carry no more significant vision than at my birth, but the one thing I can believe, the one thing that joins a world that feels all too often apart, is the limitless possibility of the human being, and the human race.
Man may segregate into ethnicities, carve and shear religion, disjoin even whole nations, isolate himself in every form of hermitage, but no matter how he tries, he can only ever be human, and this I think, is exactly as it should be. This characteristic is by no means a limiter, but instead the source of all of our potential, the gravity that binds us together, but does not stifle our flight.
I can not speak for particular groups, and am ultimately ignorant of many others’ specific beliefs, but I know every one of them has the capability to impact this world, by the unalienable virtue of being human alone. And if such a small cluster can mark our colossal planet, I can only imagine what all people could do, together.
One may speak volumes on human weakness, human frailty, and human fallibility—our mortality—but the list of human accomplishments overshadows it. No one is perfect, and yet our potential for good, through human collaboration, approaches infinity.
For what little I know, and for what little I’ve lived, I have the utmost faith in this thing above all else, and it rewards me with unfaltering security—human potential, regardless of how it has come to us, is a beautiful, unending blessing.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.