This I Believe

Maham - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on February 7, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I saw many beggars on the way to my cousin’s house in Pakistan. There were naked children and their mothers sitting under the overpass, getting up to ask for spare money from the people sitting in the luxurius cars that had stopped at the traffic light. Whole families were living in tents, barely surviving. Men without arms or legs, dragged themselves down streets so they could beg for money. And these people really did have to beg and be appreciative of what little help they received. They blessed the people sitting in their cars, repeatedly asking for aid in return to at least feed their children that day; yet it was hard to help all of them. These are the people who led me to believe that I should appreciate all that I have.

I saw these beggars through the windows of my aunt’s car that her personal driver drove us in. At my cousin’s house I was welcomed into their big, beautiful house, but outside all I could see was a dirty, deserted road where stray dogs roamed. The surrounding area was similar to a wasteland. It was the first time I had come here after I immigrated with my family to America and the sight of this ugly world scared and overwhelmed me. While many people lived in big, spacious houses for Pakistan’s standards, with maids and drivers,most of the population didn’t even have shelter.

I had a good time that summer visiting my family, but it was the worst place I’d had ever been to. I felt it was unfair that these people lived here, that my family lived here. I couldn’t imagine how they were surviving, having lived in America most of my life. After I came home that summer I felt very angry, angry at a world that was so unfair. I complained a lot because now all I saw was the unfair things in my own life. I changed a lot that year by becoming more quiet and moody because I didn’t believe people understood poverty. I barely understood it. In a way I lost some innocence that summer, being exposed to such a disaster.

One day I realized that I kept complaining but no one was really listening. I came to the conclusion that people don’t always want to hear your complaints. As unfair as life is, that’s what you’re given and that’s what you have to work with. You need to make your life as positive as you can, but most of all you have to have appreciation. I live by the rule of always being appreciative for anything given to you, done for you, or any luxuries you have, remembering that a lot of people in Pakistan don’t have those things. Its okay to complain and be angry sometimes, but you should always be appreciative. This I believe, that you should appreciate what you get in life, because who knows if it’ll be there tommorow.