This I Believe

Lauren - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Entered on December 14, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: prejudice

I believe in living a transparent life. Today, we are caught in a world where you are defined by your color and where you have to mask your true feelings. I believe in being honest in relationships, business and day to day interactions.

Upon entering into my senior year of college, I traveled throughout Ethiopia. The experience turned my world upside down and challenged every fiber of who I thought I was and what I knew about the world.

One day, while traveling throughout the country on our tour bus we stopped alongside a remote road. I walked to the other side of the street and a konjo Habesha lijch (beautiful Ethiopian child) meekly walked up to me and stood right in front of me. I was the first farenj (white forienger) she had encountered and she was one of the first children I spoke with in Ethiopia. In this moment, myself as a 21 year old farenj and this child as a 7 year old Habesha, just looked at each other in almost wonder. Without speaking she took my wrist in her hand and pointed to the faint outline of the veins under the skin on my wrist. In one word, this konjo lijch changed the way I view myself, people and this world. She looked at my wrist then looked right in my eyes and faintly whispered, “see-through.” I looked at my wrist again, and realized that my skin was in fact, see-through.

I believe in living a transparent life because it improves the person I am and the relationships I have. Showing transparency about how I feel and think allows me to connect in an honest way with people. There are no games, no barriers, and no obstacles to who I am and what I think. To life a transparent life, I have to first uphold complete honesty. I believe in being honest with myself and others. I believe in always fully sharing motives, whether in one’s personal life or in the business world.

I believe that to truly engage and live in our complex world you have to relish the gray area. To segregate decisions and people into a black and white dichotomy is something I fully reject. I believe in looking past people’s characteristics on the outside to truly see the part of the person that matters. I look beyond skin, gender, race, religious affiliation to peoples’ inner core. Living a life of true transparency is risky but it can allow you to cross unnecessary boundaries that are created by society and ignorance.

In situations where I feel my integrity and morals are being challenged or tempted, I look at my veins in my wrist. This constant reminder that I am see-through allows me to try and see the “veins” in others.