This I Believe

Josephine - Austin, Texas
Entered on January 8, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in performing small acts of kindness and inspiring others to follow this lead. I believe in the impregnability of hope and good in the human heart. I believe in the power of compassion.

As a child, I was sheltered from most of life’s misfortunes. I had a warm bed, a cozy house, and a loving family. I was taught to help the poor, to feed the hungry, to pray for the sick, and to ease the pain of the suffering. However, being the young, naïve, sheltered child that I was, I had not yet encountered these misfortunes.

I had never come across such hardships until I had decided to volunteer at my church’s “Feast of Giving,” a Thanksgiving banquet put together by parishioners for the hungry, the homeless, and the less fortunate.

When the time came to serve the food, I was stunned at the number of people that walked through the door. Homeless people in dirty rags and tattered garb pervaded the dining halls. They were able to carry all their belongings with them; some carried small knapsacks, others dilapidated backpacks. Yet the majority of the people that walked in carried nothing but the clothes on their backs, hope in their eyes, and gratitude in their hearts.

Each face was etched with the resilience and hope that only comes from life’s hardships. As I helped serve the food, I was regaled with their stories of loss, of poverty, of strife. Yet these people carried themselves with such benevolence and humility.

I realized that their hope was a product of other people’s kindness and compassion. I began to understand how these people, who had been overwhelmed by such dire trials and tribulations, could be still be so grateful and happy.

From these fragmented shards of shattered benevolence, I have watched others pick up the broken vestiges of their spirit and pieces together a grandiose model of the human capacity for hope. In the face of past adversity, and despite the trials and tribulations these individuals have been forced to endure, they remain optimistic about a better future. From the blackened ashes of life’s misfortunes, they are reborn through hopeful virtue.

I am inspired to do the same. I am inspired to hope, to heal, to reach out to others. I am inspired by courage, compassion, and kindness.

Humanity’s benign qualities and resolute persistence in the face of adversity illustrates the prospect of a more humanitarian human race. Because of kindness, there lies hope in the heart of humanity.

If kindness is looked upon as a precious gift,

The world’s plague of cruelty will start to lift.

Food for the hungry, money for the poor,

Homes for the homeless, no more conflicts of war.

There will be comfort for those who suffer, relief for those in pain;

If kindness is valued, we shall not live in vain.

Any small seed of kindness will bloom and grow

Into a lovely rose, so that all will know

That the mercy and empathy that started out as a seed,

Has grown and flowered flourished into a beautiful deed.