This I Believe

Andrew - Wayne, Pennsylvania
Entered on February 25, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: forgiveness
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Forgiveness. It’s something we all know we should have, but we don’t. Revenge and payback is the road taken by most. It’s all about getting “respect” these days, and taking matters into our own hands. It’s our first animal instinct.

Growing up in New York City and now residing in a suburb right outside of Philadelphia, I’ve unfortunately seen more cases of revenge rather than forgiveness. That’s the norm in urban society. There’s too much fighting. But I’ve seen the power of forgiveness. I was picked on in elementary school. Being the child I was, I wanted to fight—and I did, or at least tried. It turns out the bully and I both got into trouble. Then I learned forgiving, forgetting, and being kind to this kid was the better path to take. And at the end of that road I gained a friend. Turns out this kid wasn’t so bad after all.

Middle school and high school is a pain. With all those hormones raging at those ages, it’s easy to get into conflict. I’ve seen it all. Kids stepping on other’s shoes, kids bumping into each other, and gossiping. I’ve been through these incidents, and the majority of them are accidental. And most kids never mean what they say anyway. So how would I benefit if I wanted to fight over an accident? The other person is already sorry. I’d rather accept an apology or talk it out than risk getting injured or in trouble. If I was in their shoes, would I want to be forgiven? Definitely. Remember the Golden Rule. If a friend insulted me, is fighting worth risking a good friendship? I’ve had to go through this, and I chose to conciliate our differences. I feel better forgiving than feeling bad for beating on someone. And the other party feels comforted from that act of kindness. My friend and I both felt good afterwards, and we’re still great friends.

A coward tries to take revenge; but it takes a real man (or woman) to forgive. It’s easier to try to fight back than to summon up the courage to try to forgive and work the problem out. Those who, in my colloquial slang, “keep it real,” have real courage to do what’s right, even if others prefer the easier way out. I’ve heard too many stories of deaths about those who take that easier way. I don’t want to go through that. No one does. So I keep it real. That’s the best way to get true respect—respect that doesn’t come from fear, but from admiration. That’s the respect I want.

Being the fun-loving, happy teenager that I am, I want to stay happy. Holding a grudge, being angry, and being stressed out doesn’t make me happy. Forgiving does. So I try to do just that. I believe in the power of forgiveness. And besides, happy people live longer.