This I Believe

Elaine - Irvine, California
Entered on April 12, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

The mind is but a small thing. It is only an unassuming jelly of organic compounds; it is nothing more, no soul, no permanence, nothing. The knowledge is not satisfying, but it is all we could ever piece together of our world – all that my logical mind could ever allow me to believe. It is the ultimate atheism – that we have nothing to live for, nothing to lose; that we may as well live our best, as the last vestige of humanity will be the quiet, infinitely propagating blackbody radiation at the end of the universe. It has driven many to hedonism. It drives at least as many to believe in higher powers that may or may not exist, in an attempt to find meaning. I have too pure, too idealistic, a mind to bend to hedonism. In place of this, I have a compulsion do a great good in my life; that is my most desperate wish, but not easily fulfilled, or ever truly finished. I believe, quietly and desperately, that I can and must make this world better.

Why? For a question that I have explored in such depth that it hurt and angered me when I reached the bottom, I can only answer reluctantly. It was a duel of the poets; I was pitted against a fully pessimistic unknown from Ohio, someone who had arrived at such conclusions earlier than I. The contest went on, largely unseen. On the Internet. And, like in the online descriptions of one John Suler about the effects of the Internet, sometimes words on a screen affect me as if they were dredged up from the deep realm of my own subconscious. I feared the words, did not want to acknowledge them. But they were there, and I had to turn against my own childish innocence, idealism, and reply to the older version of myself: “yes, you are right, even if I want to remain in the sheltered realm of childhood I cannot.”

But I could only give up my innocence. I still have my idealism. For I want the world to be better, for my own sanity’s sake, even as I have given up the belief thatthe world *should* be better. This is where my quiet compulsion comes from, so that I might do better for others than others have done for me. Such is myself, for I must believe in myself if nothing else. And there is nothing else, if all belief is taken away. Not even a single photon of blackbody radiation, still quietly, electromagnetically, vibrating its way towards infinity.