This I Believe

Omair - Wilmington, Massachusetts
Entered on December 10, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: work
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A big house, a nice car, and a job that pays well: three goals everyone strives for. Most people tend to look up to those who have more than them, rather than being thankful for what they have and looking to those less fortunate. Everyone takes things for granted, don’t try to deny it. However, we should really take time to think of others who struggle to put food on a cardboard box on the side of a street for their families. It doesn’t matter if you have a million dollars or five – what matters is how you earned it. I believe that those who work hard to help themselves as much as they can, and not handed money or jobs, are the ones who make a difference in the world.

I recently traveled to Pakistan, and stayed in a destitute area of the city. The “rich” people live in guarded sectors so that the poor can’t steal from them – which usually happens, anyway. But no matter where I went, down dirt roads or to malls, I witnessed people with all kinds of health issues or severe financial problems. They would walk up to anyone, begging for spare change to feed their children, or to pay for their operation.

One man’s words affected me so much that I changed my dreams completely. He seemed to be about 50, and had some kind of cancer sore on his right arm. He came up to me, weeping, asking for a few dollars to collect money for his operation for his injury. He had a hard time saying what it was, exactly. I was not shocked that he didn’t know what it was, but I was surprised that he did not know to keep it covered, and concealed in the crowded and polluted streets. My aunt told me that he’s been on the streets since his childhood, and never received an education. Instantly, I was thankful for the excellent school that I go to, and the great education I receive. That man alone made me appreciate the house I live in, the parents who provide for me, and the education that is such a luxury in many parts of the world.

This uneducated man, I later learned, worked as a janitor at a restaurant to help his family survive. I have great respect for him. He was willing to do degrading, menial work to keep his family from starving. As I spoke to him, he told me that I should not take anything for granted, and to go to bed every night after thanking God for making me one of the more fortunate people.

I believe that he and I are not that different from one another. He worked hard to provide what he could for his family, and I work hard so that one day, I provide more for my family. He made me believe that he was a self-made man, and was not handed anything on a silver platter. I believe that he is just as much of a winner as me because he worked as hard as he could, in the only way he could think of, rather than being sitting back, or having handed everything to him.