This I Believe

Catherine - Newtown, Connecticut
Entered on May 29, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: injustice
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There is so much suffering in the world. If there is one thing life has taught me, it is that.

This year, in taking United States History, I have been barraged with image after image and story after story of personal suffering and grief. I have learned of World Wars that have ravaged populations and left nothing but misery and despair in their wake. I’ve been forced to think of the pain in the world today. I think of those in Africa, who are helpless and suffering from the agonizing AIDS virus. And there are individuals in Darfur, living without recourse to the genocide and terror that destroys their lives. There are mothers who cannot afford to feed their children. There are homeless people in every country, shunned, helpless, and forgotten. There are millions of aborted unborn, never granted the chance to live. There are the disabled and the elderly without those to care for them. The lonely, the abandoned, the abused, the sick. All over the world.

There is so much, so many different kinds of suffering that I cannot even begin to comprehend it all. With every story I hear, my heart grieves. Yet what can I possibly do? I know that I can never end it and that it can never be eradicated. But I also know that there is one conclusion that can be drawn from all of the misery in the world. Every time my mind of logic considers the anguish that is experienced by humans everywhere, I can only alight on one reasonable conclusion. A conclusion that shines a light of meaning and hope on this world of suffering. A conclusion that whispers to me to simply enjoy life and the time that is granted. I must cherish the years, the days, and the moments not marred by ugliness.

Although it may seem difficult, I know not to curl up in fear at life’s hardships, not to despair at the world, and life, and humankind but to do just the opposite. Suffering teaches me to take joy in our world. In every moment when I can find pleasure, I remind myself to savor it. I understand that pain is just a part of life and of other’s lives. I don’t have power over this. I only have the power to love and to enjoy happiness where it can be found.

So, as I drive home from school each day, I push my worries from my mind. I forget about the World Wars, the AIDS, the poverty, and the grief. I forget about the pain rocking the world around me for a while. Instead, I sing as loud as possible to the music that’s playing, I take in the beauty of the sky, I feel the warm press of the sun on my cheeks, and I smile.

Because there is so much joy in the world. If there is one thing suffering has taught me, it is that.