Jonathan - SSF, California
Entered on March 31, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in purpose. That’s not to say I believe that everything happens for a

reason—I’ve seen far too many inexplicable and random things to subscribe to that

particular philosophy. However, I do believe that there is purpose in most things, that

every person conducts themselves for the most part because of some motive, some

reasoning, whether they’re aware of it or not, conscious of it…or not.

Why go left and not right? Up but not down? Green sweater over red sweater,

solve for x and not y, picking one band over another to put on an iPod. What factors

determine such choices, and I do believe that there are such factors, that people don’t do

most things, as one would say, “on a whim.” I think whenever I face one of these

unavoidable and seemingly insignificant choices, there is something determining why I

choose one or the other, even if I don’t know what it is. Maybe I go right because I’m

right-handed, up to prove I’m not afraid of heights, red because I look better in it than

green and x because it come first in the alphabet. In these little choices I make every day

and take for granted, there is generally a method to my apparent madness, if I only need

to figure it out.

I also believe there is randomness in the world. Why not suddenly scream out in

the middle of a library or have an alphabet with two Vs? Who’s to say we can’t draw a

horse with five legs instead of four or write a story about someone skipping across the

English Channel because he just didn’t feel like getting wet? There are things we can’t

explain, actions we take “just because.” But I believe, for the most part, that they’re rarer

than we give them credit to be.

With this belief in mind I try to understand the ever allusive question why, and

that, I believe, is the purpose behind purpose. If someone is on acting in a peculiar way

I’ll want to know why, because something might be wrong. If a scientist sees something

that defies the laws of known physics, he’ll want to know why that happened. While it’s

true it might take a little extra effort to figure it out, that the answer may not be obvious,

it’s worth it. Without wondering why we’d have never figured out how, and without how

we’d still be in the Stone Age.

This I believe.