This I Believe

Josh - San Jose, California
Entered on June 13, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Black, White, & Gray

When I first started high school many different people influenced me, first of all, my new geometry teacher. He was a good teacher, but on several occasions he would get frustrated with the teenage lethargy in the room, and proceeded to lecture the class about our society. He declared that if we weren’t incredibly talented or smart, we had a small chance of being successful in life. Even though his imagery didn’t affect most of my peers, the idea of living in my parent’s basement at the age of thirty didn’t appeal to me, so his speeches continued to motivate me to work hard towards the future. At the same time, I was being influenced by my friends, whom having discovered a new social life in high school, had a different view on the subject. They were living each moment as if it were their last. Their philosophy also appealed to me for obvious reasons: not having any boundaries, no responsibilities, and always having fun. Even though these ideas were opposing, I wanted to adopt them both as my own beliefs. I felt as if I was a hypocrite for agreeing with both of them and it wasn’t the only time I felt this way.

A couple of months ago my brother’s friend, Brendan, came over to our house. As he was waiting for my brother to get ready he told us about his recent protest at college. A group of students, who wanted to preserve the little nature that still existed on campus, had been spending their nights sleeping in the trees, as a protest against the administration building a new sports center. I thought his courage and purpose were admirable. Then a few nights later, a family friend came over and Brendan’s protest came up in conversation. He thought the protest was outrageous and that the building of the facility should not be delayed because of a few trees. His point seemed valid, why not cut down fifteen or so trees to make a completely new complex that would benefit thousands of students? Once again, I was caught between two contrasting ideas. These incidents taught me a lot about myself and what I truly believe.

I believe in living each moment to the fullest. I believe in working hard towards the future. I believe in saving the trees. I believe in urbanization. I believe in individualism. I believe in conformity. I believe in selfishness. I believe in compassion for others. I think it’s possible to believe in opposing concepts as each is useful to a certain extent, before reaching an extreme. It would be impossible not to use trees as a natural resource in our society. But at the same time, deforestation is harmful because trees supply oxygen and assist in regulating the ecosystem. I’m not an extremist or a conservative.

Seeing the value in conflicting ideals does not deem me a hypocrite, just a guy who believes in balance.