This I Believe

Jonathan - Rochester, New York
Entered on May 30, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in humanity.

Some days this is not easy. Humans can be fickle, back-biting, gossipy, and generally mean and nasty. They cut you off on the freeway, jostle in line at the grocery store checkout counter, swear, lie, and, when they aren’t out murdering or robbing or committing some heinous crime, seem especially adept at making bad choices that inconvenience everyone around them. They can be spiteful, conniving, unthinking, unkind—all those traits our parents taught us not to embrace when we were young that end up largely forgotten when we reach adulthood, as if turning 18 or 21 suddenly gives one the freedom to be short-sighted.

But I also believe in the power of forgiveness. Of love. Of change. Of education. It is by these that the world is altered, and that the effects of all the mistakes of human beings are not just negated, but reversed. I believe in the inherent good in all of us, and I believe that ‘all of us’ means everyone.

And so I get up, even on mornings when I don’t believe in humankind, the world, God, or anything else because I simply cannot understand them. The morning after my grandmother passed away. The morning after I found out my mother had been diagnosed with cancer. The morning after a good friend’s life was taken in a random act of violence. Even the morning after I discovered that I didn’t really know how to believe, and wondered if what I had thought up until then was true perhaps wasn’t. I go on because I believe in the power of work to change the world, because I believe in laboring for just causes, because I believe in the enlightenment that comes at the end of a cloud of confusion, and because I believe in my parents who taught me this. Their example restores my faith, along with the small acts of kindness I notice all around me when I take the time to look.

This is what makes the difference: when I open my eyes and see further than the shortcomings of the people around me, past their mistakes, and even beyond my own flaws, I no longer despair for the future of the world. Surely there is enough good, even in small increments, to outweigh all the bad. Surely there is enough good to give us hope that, one day, there will be no more bad and we will never need to question our belief in humanity. And this, in the end, is what I believe.