This I Believe

Cecelia - Bartlett, Illinois
Entered on October 15, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that individuals have to be the force that drives positive change in the world. As a child, I cared about little but my own personal interests. I would visit Chicago and completely look past the homeless and the filthy streets. I know that most children live in their own private worlds; however, as I grew older, I realized that this was not the person I wanted to be. I was not so callous as to be completely ignorant and uncaring to the problems around me, but it didn’t occur to me that I could help create change.

I was older, in high school, when I became aware of the problem that global warming and pollution were presenting. At first I did what children do, whine and complain, and then sulk when their demands aren’t met. But then it occurred to me that this was a problem that I would have to take a part in fixing because I realized that this wasn’t something that just affected me now, but would impact my entire future. Gandhi once said “be the change you want to see in the world,” and I agree. It is the small steps that I can take which can sometimes make the biggest difference. I don’t have millions of dollars to donate to Green Peace, and I can’t personally pass a law to reduce pollution. I can, however, turn off lights when I leave a room and try to bike or walk when possible. These small actions do not cost me money, and don’t take much extra time, and yet if everybody did these little things the overall effect would be immense.

However, it is up to each individual to decide to help create change, even if the first step is only to become informed. I grew up aware of pollution, but it never really intruded into my childhood life. If anything, all I knew was that I should save endangered animals – and then take them home as my pets. There wasn’t some life defining moment when I realized that I had to save the planet, it just occurred over time as I grew and began to understand that this was the only place I would get to live.

Overall, I realize that the small changes I make don’t cause any great impact in the world. But if I encourage my friends and family to make the same changes, and they tell others, the impact grows. By trying to be the change that I want to see, I can help drive positive actions in those around me.