This I Believe

Beth - Lumberton, New Jersey
Entered on January 10, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I believe….

I woke up this morning before the sun. As I forced my eyelids to open, I was overwhelmed by a sense of hopefulness and promise. I stretched my tired body and stood. My bed is comfortable and my apartment is warm. I busily follow my morning routine and leave for another day at work. The sun is shining and the brisk wind sends a chill through my spine. It feels good and so do I.

I merge onto to the highways and fight the busy rush hour traffic. I observe the others in my sight and I wonder about them, who they are and what they believe. As I get closer to the city I call home for eight hours a day, I tune into the National broadcast of public radio. The familiar broadcasts of war, oppression, terrorism, capitalism and fear are being reported. I contemplate my feelings of complacency and hopelessness. Suddenly I find myself completely engaged. A tale of women like me I can’t even begin to understand.

I hear a women’s voice in a tongue so foreign to me that is impossible for me to grasp. When the translation begins, I hear a report of the rising suicide rate in Afghani women. An eighteen-year-old woman tells her story of attempted suicide. She speaks of the oppression and torture of women in a land dominated by men. I cannot feel a connection to this world. She speaks of suicide as a viable option to her and her friends. She explains the few choices she is given and the rationalizations of taking her own life. I hear her explanations and I begin to understand. I am so overwhelmed with emotion that I begin to cry. The story ends and immediately I hear the voice of a man.

This man, a captain in the US National Guard, is telling his story of being stationed with the Afghani army to fight the Taliban. He speaks of the dangers, atrocities and realities of war. I cannot stop crying.

I turn the radio off because I cannot take anymore. I try to drift off into thoughts of goodness and hope. I’ve learned that ignorance can be bliss. However, these terrible realities of the world I belong to will not go away. I wonder how the state of Humanity has gotten so awful. I try to rationalize the chaos that surrounds me. I look to God and plead with him to help me understand. I realize that this is not for me to know. I hand my resentment, misunderstanding and rage to God.

I now find myself on the exit ramp of the highway. I look at the modest homes with nicely manicured lawns and Christmas wreaths on the doors and I feel better. As I drive along the road, the scenery changes very dramatically. I am now in a city neighborhood with abandoned buildings where trash covers the street. Instantly a pothole startles me as I crash into it on the road. I look up and see a school.

I see lines of children being escorted across the road by a crossing guard. I look to the children and wonder what their futures have in store. I think of the violence, gangs and drug trafficking that plague their front yards. I see a few children standing outside of a corner store laughing. I am amazed by this joyfulness in such a depressed environment. My feelings begin to change.

I feel hopeful again. This world I live in is in complete chaos but I see the hope in these children’s eyes, a promise of a better tomorrow. I ask myself if this is true. Is there a better tomorrow for these children who have done nothing but be born into these circumstances? I tell myself yes. There just has to be.

I continue to drive observing very carefully the people around me. I pull into the driveway of my work place. I sit in the car and ponder the realities of my experience this morning.

This I believe….

I believe the world is in chaos and we have gotten too far to turn it all around.

I believe that terrible events happen every second of every day.

I believe that darkness, oppression and torture plague this world.

I believe I am powerless to change it all.

Then, my thoughts shift.

I believe in a God who takes care of all of us regardless of faith.

I believe in a better place for all who suffer and withstand the realities of the world.

I believe in the innocence of the children and the hope for a better tomorrow.

I believe that in the midst of every difficulty, I can find an opportunity.

I believe I can make a small difference in the world around me.

I believe life is a gift that we have all been given.

I walk through the door and enter the warm room where the homeless slept the night before. I make my way up to my desk, sit at my computer and check my electronic mail. I feel compelled to write this story. God has answered me. Not through his words but through his world. This life is not for us to understand but for us to do this best we can. We must be aware and advocate for change. Ignorance is not bliss. In the midst of a world full of atrocities, there is hope for a better tomorrow. Not in this life but the next.

For this I believe.