This I Believe

Barbara - Portland, Maine
Entered on May 2, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

An alternative

Destiny sounds romantic, and inevitable. Being somewhat of a control freak, I have issues with the inevitable part.

As a teacher, I am privy to snap shots of my students’ lives. Some of the pictures I see are not pretty. They are colored with abuse, neglect and ignorance. Are my students destined to continue this cycle? Some do. This made me consider my thoughts and feelings about life and how it unfolds. Is life a series of predetermined events; is my fate already written?

I believe people choose and take actions that influence how their lives unfold. There are countless examples of individuals who, despite growing up in environments so bereft of goodness, honesty, justice, and beauty, rise above. They select their paths with passion and purpose. Helen Keller, Frederick Douglass, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa each created a life that was worthy, that fulfilled them as well as the lives of others who have been brought close to them. Is this fate, chance, a predetermined course of events? I think not. It is rather their conviction, resolution, and yearning; it shows character. To create a paradise or utopia from the ruins of an existence is miraculous. Is that destiny? Is having faith and believing in a better life something that you cannot choose? This country was founded by individuals who believed that life could be better. We don’t need to be famous to choose a better way; it happens everyday, every minute in all walks of life. My father always told my sisters and me “there is no such word as can’t”. I am grateful for these words that inspired rather than limited my choices.

As a teacher the one desire I have is to instill in my students the belief that anything is possible, that their choices will lead them on a pathway that is in their control. Choices about purpose, the resolution and discipline they bring to bear, will bring lasting satisfaction. They should be wary of their purpose. We can choose to be strong, brave, kind, fair. Or we can choose to be destined to a life that will not and can not change and then blame fate. We can choose a life that relives the injustices and horrors of our parents.

I believe in making the choice that is filled with passion and longing as well as purpose and discretion. I believe we all have a will that is fueled by our belief in fairness and justice. I believe each one of us is in a position to make our own lives and the lives of those around us better. I believe that everyday we need to remind ourselves of our purpose and direct ourselves to live the life we want to live.