This I Believe

Austin - Western Springs, Illinois
Entered on February 26, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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The Power of Thought

I am fifteen years old. When asked to think about events that have shaped my life and my person as a whole, I am hard-pressed to come up with anything. This goes beyond my traditionally bad memory; I think I really have had few, if any, truly definitive moments in my life, where I said to myself, “So this is how the world works.” But I have to live my life somehow. I had some options; I could completely invent a worldview, with potentially disastrous results, settle on something traditional, or take things as they came. I had to think about it.

It was then that I realized the significance of what I was doing. It was so simple – stopping and thinking – that I had entirely overlooked it. Thinking, evaluating, and always critical – this was huge to me. It’s a system so utterly simple that it’s mind-boggling how much potential it has. But perhaps it is that simplicity that gives it its limitless power. It’s form-fitting for every topic – it’s shapeless, changing look to meet the needs of any vessel containing it. It’s completely universal and has no challenges against it – that to judge each situation with an open mind means that everything can be worked out right.

I believe in the power of thought. Critical thought, I find, is so rare that I often despair to find it, and brings me the greatest joy to find it, concealed somewhere, by a fellow conspirator. It’s almost like a breath of fresh air after Mexico City, a circumstance that I cannot quite claim to have experienced, though one I can certainly imagine, with my thoughts.

As a corollary to thought I believe in skepticism. Certainly there have been many negative connotations applied to skeptics in the past, but at its core lies a singularly useful premise: the grain of salt. In other words, don’t take claims at face value. People’s information may outdated or flawed, they may have been the unwitting victims of misinformation, or they may be outright lying to you (though I can’t imagine anyone who might be involved in such a vile and despicable practice). But as long as I evaluate each claim fairly, then I will know the truth.

Truth, then, is the ultimate goal. For so long it has been the ultimate goal, the ultimate truth, though perhaps such a truth does not exist, or will remain forever out of reach. But I believe that thought, pure rational thought, is the best road to travel down for it. And that, I believe, is the most important truth of all.