This I Believe

Andrew - Albion, Michigan
Entered on March 25, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Warmth in a Cold World

The last time your car broke down, how many people stopped to help? One? Two? The answer is most likely none. You stood by your car for hours waiting for the tow truck. Unfortunately, this is the way that modern society has evolved. It is marked by the death of common courtesy. However, like a collector’s item, civility has become all that much more valuable. I believe that despite the coldness of modern society, people can still strive to be sources of heat.

When studying to take my driver’s test, I was taught to signal 2-3 seconds before merging into another lane. I no longer obey this particular rule. I have found that activating my turn signal just makes cars in the other lane speed up so I cannot merge in front of them. Signaling a split second before merging seems to be the better option; the other drivers have no time to react. Now imagine if you were the driver of that other car. Would you let me in? Or would you speed up just like everyone else, because that extra fifteen feet is going to make a huge difference in your travel time? If every driver realized that letting someone merge is in no way an inconvenience, the morning commute would be infinitely less stressful. Now just imagine if that concept were extended to other facets of life.

Recently, I made a trip to the local grocery store. My Pop Tarts® and Coke® supply in my dorm was running low. I arrived at the front of the line, only to realize that I had a ten dollar bill for my $10.15 purchase. I offered to ditch one of my items, but instead the cashier coolly reached into her pocket and pulled out a quarter. With that one simple gesture, she saved me from having to return the pop to the shelves and moving to the end of the line. Just like that, a potential blood pressure rising experience turned into a pleasant one. It would have been easier for the cashier to simply send me away, but she went out of her way to help me. For the rest of the day I was in a great mood, and I was a more pleasant person to be around. Through me, the cashier made the world a better place.

Small gestures such as these make everyone involved feel better. Just hold a door for someone or even just say “excuse me” or “thank you”. Before long, there is a chain reaction. Each beneficiary of generosity turns around and passes it on to someone else. Before long, the chain reaction grows and these small acts of kindness combine to help change the world. This concept may seem farfetched, but if enough people are willing it is totally possible. If there are enough sparks, eventually the wood will catch fire. Despite an increasingly cold, impersonal world, I believe we can still regain the level of warmth that existed in the past.