I Believe in People

Paul - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 28, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, humanism

There are times when I start to lose faith in humanity. When I turn on the news, I find out that the murder rate in Philadelphia is climbing toward an all-time high, there’s been another terrorist attack in the Middle East and some politician is involved in a sex scandal.

Ho hum. Just another day on the planet Earth.

There’s good news for the world, though. In everyone’s life, there’s at least one person who exemplifies the power of the human spirit. You just have to find that person. I am fortunate to be related to someone who restores my belief in people.

If you think you’ve been dealt a rotten lot in life, consider Tom Nordeman. He was born with cerebral palsy, a disorder of the brain that impairs his movement. He’s never walked and isn’t able to control his limbs in the same way as a fully able person. Tom has been confined to a wheel chair his entire life, and as he grew, complications arose relating to his disorder. He suffered through agonizingly painful procedures on a regular basis, moved from hospital to hospital to get treatment and missed out on many of the childhood memories that many of us take for granted.

Still, he loves his life.

“Everybody has their own disability,” Tom said, referring to advice he was given by a friend. “The only difference is you can see mine. And I don’t let the fact that my legs don’t work get me down.”

Tom could have been mad at the world. After all, how many of us can say we’ve experienced the physical and emotional struggles he has. He didn’t, though, and he’s taught me that everyone has a big heart inside of them, they just need to let it show.

If Tom can look at life with such optimism, people like myself — blessed with the fortune of good health and a loving family — should have no problem treating every day as a gift.

Of course, I don’t. And most people I know treat their troubles as if they were of earth-shattering significance. But they’re usually not. We humans are a dramatic bunch, and we tend to over-think our own lives and take some of the joy out of them in the process. Tom may have to bear his own cross, but its given him the unique ability to have a true sense of perspective about life. He can see just how good things are, even when other can’t.

He’s a testament to the power of faith and an example to the rest of us on how to live a happier life.

Deal with the bad, cherish the good, and leave your regrets at the door. That’s what Tom does, and he’s the reason I believe in the good inside of everybody.