This I Believe

Michelle - Fort Worth, Texas
Entered on December 13, 2007

At the age of 14, I experienced a world unlike my own. It was a world that changed me forever and etched an imprint on my soul. This world was the life of a child living on the streets of Bucharest, Romania. He and his 4-year-old brother had been abandoned by their parents and turned away by orphanages. They had nowhere to go and no way to survive but to beg for their meals or to steal.

Through the dirt, I could see the innocence that was quickly fading from their young faces. No one wanted them, and they had no one to give them a voice. I wanted so badly to go on this trip because I felt that there were people I could help. I was a young girl looking for adventure. What I found were people who had been forsaken by society, and I wasn’t prepared for such a revelation. It was a world of hunger, neglect and solitude, and I felt utterly powerless.

As I watched a 5-year-old boy ask passers-by for food or money, only to be brushed aside with looks of disgust, I saw injustice for the first time. I had never known of the hurts of others in such a real way, and that realization’s intrusion into my rosy world caused my heart to grow passionate about giving opportunity to the oppressed.

As a proud citizen of the land of the free, I came off the airplane at the end of the trip in chains, asking myself how any person could be devalued in such a way. I often think about these young children, and the many more like them all around me, and wonder if the world really understands the gravity of its injustices.

I believe that the worst kind of injustice is standing passively aside while another human being is suffering. Social justice is the protection of the oppressed, the fight for change and the equality of opportunity. Social justice is the credo in the land of the free; something worth fighting for.

There are many who have taken up this fight, and I encourage others to join the ranks. There are millions of people, young and old, who have been silenced by their circumstance and I believe it is the duty of the rest to give them a voice.

This belief has led me to be a writer. I believe that I can make a small difference by telling the story of those without opportunity and to use my words to reach those in power and influence change. We are not powerless to change the lives of those around us if we start small and believe that there is a purpose worth fighting for. This, I believe.