This I Believe

Avanthi - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 13, 2006
Age Group: Under 18


No one truly embodies perfection. Although I see many who have a façade of perfection, I know better than to accept only that of people. However, I can appreciate peoples’ imperfections; their, perhaps, comical quirks and some that do not evoke amusement. But despite peoples’ costumes and quirks, I see potential. Perfection is not the thing that gets us places. Imperfection is potential.

I view the word potential in many different ways. It can be one’s future, as well as one’s impact on others. Potential can be the prospect of fulfilling dreams or goals. Potential, in my mind, can also be simply living and accomplishing things minute or otherwise. It is an unknown that can transform into something vast.

One week ago to the date, someone passed away. He did not possess tragic hero qualities or anything of that sort. He was a boy. He drummed for the band that formed when he was only 13. The band was something of a hopeful prospect in the eyes of our teenage scene. The band had potential; the members had imperfections. Their imperfection was choosing drugs and parties. The boy led a life of fun and carelessness; carelessness that unexpectedly caused his death.

The 16 year old boy sat in the passenger seat without a seatbelt. Not in control of the car that hit the pavement on an exit on a major highway and rolled out of control at 1 AM. He was thrown halfway out the window. The driver lived only to lie in a hospital bed conscious enough to contemplate that he was intoxicated and in control of a car while his passenger was also intoxicated and now dead. Carelessness is a dangerous imperfection.

As I heard details through the grapevine I realized he was a stranger to me. I shared one class with him in which I was too intimidated by him to carry a conversation. At the same time he was unknowingly convincing me that he was one of the wittiest people I knew; cracking jokes and making everyone laugh.

I doubt he could have expected this impact on me; a short Indian girl who was, as stereotyped, just IB and just ignorant. I doubt he knew that I would be defending his name and his rights as a human being with imperfections to my friends who lived up to the title of “just IB and just ignorant.” They made judgments and looked surprised to hear me defend a boy I barely knew. I surprised myself with how strongly I felt about everyone having potential and, sadly, the boy who retained so much despite his imperfection that led to his death.

I heard a tone when people spoke of his death; a tone that questioned if a 16 year old boy who was caught up in a world of drugs really deserved death?

To me, he was a stranger; a stranger that had potential. Maybe he could have grown out of his “phase,” maybe not. That is the beauty of respect and giving people the benefit of the doubt. I defend his name because I believe in imperfection. I believe in potential. I believe in you and me and who we are and who we can be.