This I Believe

Joshua - Happy Valley, Oregon
Entered on January 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: immigrant

This I Believe

I believe that everyone, regardless of social status, ethnicity, nationality, or gender, needs to feel useful, included, and significant. We humans have a natural, inherent tendency to group together, resulting from natural selection- the early humans who didn’t, died, and only the “groupies” survived to pass on their genetic traits. Because of this, we notice when others or we are unproductive, excluded, and/or insignificant. Even for the least motivated people, who have endured the most hardship, there is still a basic instinct to get work, join other people, and accomplish something significant. Everyone will leave a legacy on the world, whether they like it or not, and most people, coming to terms with that reality, decide to try to leave a positive, memorable one.

Throughout my years in middle school and high school, I have been involved in countless group projects, ranging from filming a westward expansion skit to presenting information on a Renaissance artist to acting out Julius Caesar to creating a video about the popularization of steamboats in the US. Throughout all of these projects, I have noticed that everyone either participates or chooses not to but feels bad afterward, as they know they are putting an unfair burden on their fellow classmates’ shoulders.

Also, I have traveled to a variety of countries around the world, including Mexico, Costa Rica, China, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. While the cultures and ways of life in these countries are infinitely varied compared to each other and to the US, I have noticed that in every one, the people feel the need to be part of something significant, to be included, and to be productive. For example, in Mexico, time is not an issue- family is the priority. In Switzerland, if your watch is off by three seconds or if the train arrives five seconds early, something is wrong. Yet in both of these countries, humans tend to group together to create cities, accomplish large-scale tasks like public works projects, and form distinct social groups, which people belong to in order to be able to fit in and identify themselves.

However, this being the case, even though everyone has to be involved and productive, not everyone reaps the same benefits. Some people grow up in hardship, and don’t have as much opportunity in life. In Mexico, there were many families living in villages consisting of little more than shacks, in the hillsides outside Oaxaca. Despite this gap, I have come to find that often times, these people are the most joyful and at peace with the world, because they are free from the bondage of devotion to stuff, and can reflect on the truly important aspects of life, such as relationships, love, peace, and simplicity. While the governments of countries with people in hardship might be partially to blame for this injustice, ultimately, everyone is to blame, even for the simple reason of not doing anything about it. There has been a recent increased interest in border security between the US and Mexico, as many illegal immigrants enter through it. But I believe that the heart of this issue is the need for Mexican citizens to get work, to accomplish something, and to actually get decent payment for their work. Since they can’t find it in Mexico, they do the only thing to keep them from starving to death- come get a job in the US.