This I Believe

Sonja - Iowa City, Iowa
Entered on December 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: humanism

Everyone knows what it feels like to lose something that can’t be replaced. Everyone farts. And yet everyone also has a special characteristic that sets them a part from everyone else. That makes them unique in a way that redefines themselves and puts them in a category separate from average or common.

I believe that every individual is both ordinary and extraordinary.

The reality that everyone is both ordinary and extraordinary became clear after my own life altering experience

A year ago almost to date I completed three months of volunteering at an institute for physically disabled adults in Israel. The people that I volunteered with suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and Muscular Dystrophy two extremely debilitating disorders. None could walk and few could feed themselves without assistance. All mentally capable people trapped in their own bodies.

It is impossible to articulate how it changed my life knowing that without holding the straw steady in a person’s mouth he or she would not have the ability to drink water.

But what is even more difficult to articulate is my own transformation between viewing the residents with pity and then coming to understand their goal of living as ordinary of a life as possible. Somewhere between watching people paint, with their feet, and listening to them sing in a choir I realized that these remarkable individuals were both ordinary and extraordinary.

George Herbert Walker Bush, former president of the United States, revealed something very ordinary about his life, “I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” The president of the United States is always one of the most extraordinary people in the world but they too have ordinary tendencies.

A general assumption is often made that one needs to be famous, infamous or have some type of disability that sets them a part in order to be extraordinary. Conversely it is thought that and one needs to be “normal” in order to be ordinary. It is perceived that a person can’t be both, they are either special or they are not.

But no one should be fooled about the extraordinary qualities of seemingly ordinary people. The father whose job is a firefighter and saves lives in between running his kids to soccer practice and cooking dinner. Or the teacher that inspires children to make a difference in the world. People set themselves a part from their ordinary lives by having incredible achievements.

At the end of the day we are all human beings. People spend far too much time worrying about race, religion, and gender. The last thing everyone needs is to be concerned about defining who is ordinary and who is extraordinary in life. For we all are a little bit of both. Each person is striving to reach a middle ground of doing exceptional tasks while maintaining a level of simplicity. So lets applaud how ordinary Bush senior is for not liking broccoli, and lets accept my physically disabled friends’ goals of living a normal life. I believe every individual is both ordinary and extraordinary