This I Believe

Michelle - Wilmington, Massachusetts
Entered on December 8, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Seeing the Good

As the holiday season nears, the malls have become crowded, the flyers ubiquitous, and the shoppers impatient. It is easy to get swept up in the materialism, haste, and intolerance that seem to accompany the arrival of Christmas. However, every now and then I see someone help another pick up dropped bags, hold the door, or help return a child that has been lost in the chaos of a department store. These moments remind me of what is truly important during this holiday season; they remind me of the decency that lies within most people. It is events like these that strengthen my faith in mankind and remind me that I believe in the goodness of the human spirit.

Sometimes it seems that everyone is only focused on themselves. When I look around I see people on their cell phones, tugging on the arms of their children, hurrying around, and barely having time to say thank you or look each other in the eye. In our society of instant gratification and multitasking, it often seems as though people are more focused on possessions and wealth than on each other, but I have found that that is not always the case.

A few weeks ago I volunteered at a collection drive for my local food pantry. The drive was to collect food items to make up Thanksgiving food baskets for families in need. As my friend and I stood outside of a supermarket door and handed out flyers to shoppers when they entered, we were often met with annoyance. Our calls to “help the food pantry” were met with dirty looks, evaded eye contact, sheepish declines and total ignorance. We were quick to judge, wondering how people could be so selfish, but were soon surprised.

In the midst of all the uncooperative customers were a few special people. First, there was a frail old woman who purchased one small bag of groceries for herself and donated three large ones. After her came a woman who entered the store talking on her cell phone and herding three small children. Although she emerged from the store wrestling her toddlers, her purse and her loaded carriage, she still took the time to hand us a few extra cans for the pantry. Later that hour a man approached us and gave us forty dollars saying that he “hoped it helped put some food on someone’s table”. It’s these type of people that outshine the rest. These few outstanding individuals eclipsed the majority that did not.

It is not to say that the people who did not contribute are heartless. The experience reminded me how easy it is to go through life without helping others out. The selfless people I encounter every now and then help me to see the goodness not only in them but in others as well. These special individuals help me appreciate the busy everyday people. As I enter this holiday season it is important for me to remember the kindness that have seen displayed so purely, and remember that most people in this world are good.