This I Believe

Cole - Norman, Oklahoma
Entered on February 6, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I am guided by the belief that everything is sublimely connected in both obvious and infinitely subtle ways. Everything that I do has some consequence, some more immediate and apparent than others. Though, this may sound naïve to some, I whole-heartedly affirm this statement. I believe that we as humans are but a small part of a world that we barely comprehend, yet we have such great power over our surroundings. What do we do with our great power? Do we destroy or create? Hurt or help? Though our actions seem isolated at times, they echo throughout the world perpetually, affecting everything, though we are blind to its effects.

How can I say something like this? One day, several years ago, I noticed an acorn fall from a tree. I then say a squirrel hurriedly rush over and pick up the acorn before absconding with it. I began to think about how beautiful that scene was, how the tree needed the squirrel and the squirrel needed the tree. They were totally different yet completely interconnected. There was no difference between their existence. Squirrel and tree merged as a single unit in my mind. So simple yet so complex. The world is just the top of the water. The ocean of life lies beneath.

If we were all to go through life being painfully aware of our actions, then we could attain a new level of cooperation throughout the world. We as humans are all in this together. The oil I use in America was obtained by Dutch drillers using Arab employees and German equipment in the Middle East. The fruit I eat was picked by Mexican migrant workers (the people that middle Americans love to hate, yet they don’t seem to mind enjoying their orange juice in the morning). The ultimate goal of humans, myself included, should be to realize our place in the world and to appreciate it. I don’t mean “place” as in occupation or class, I mean the role that we have to play in the continually unfolding universe. If one is to believe that we are here for a reason, then that reason is inexorably tangled up with the welfare or detriment of every other living person. We are all part of the same fabric.

I believe that we as people are able to progress, though it will take a (very) long time. It has taken us thousands of years to get where we are now and we still have much to learn about ourselves and about each other. But change occurs at the individual level, not on some lofty plain where grand designs slumber. The world will fade but life will go on in ways no one can imagine. What, after all, is death?