Spreading Sunlight

Sadia - Cypress, Texas
Entered on November 10, 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 that every smile is a beam of sunlight.

There is a saying in my religion, in Islam, that smiling at another is an act of charity. It’s a simple statement, but made all the more powerful by its very simplicity.

I live in a world crashing around me in a chaotic whirlwind of news stories about inconceivable atrocities and human suffering melding with thoughts of pre-calculus homework, impending history essays, college research, and crammed and unpredictable schedules. In this perpetually tipping world, it’s difficult to stay balanced; my feet are constantly seeking stable ground on earthquake prone turf. It’s easy to sit down with my hands over my ears and eyes, willing the clawing headache ailing the human mind out of my own inner sanctuary. But that’s easy for a reason: it is cowardly to give in the cacophony. I feel it is more courageous to bare my soul, not hide it. This inherent belief gives my life a purpose.

I believe that with every day, I wake up with the responsibility to make the world a slightly better place. The simplest, most fundamental way to do that is to touch upon the chord of humanity, and to make another person smile.

Charity comes in many forms, and perhaps one day, I can participate in the grander aspects of helping others. No matter the size or scale of the act, I define charity as an act of love. Smiling is the rawest, most tangible show of love, an intrinsic human instinct.

If the sun is a symbol of life and of joy, it only makes sense that a smile is full of its light.

There is not much I can do in the grand scheme of the world at the age of 16. I cannot abolish the institution of war. I cannot make poverty history. I cannot provide education to every child, or fill the bellies of every emaciated body. I cannot make every human regard the others as his brothers and sisters, nor can I expect to cause universal tolerance and unity. I cannot hope to convince a technological culture to step back and remember the charms of the imagination and the beauty and power of nature.

I can do none of these things on my own, and certainly I can do none of these things at age 16.

What I can do is smile. I can smile now, I can smile tomorrow, and I will smile every day of my life, and perhaps one day, I will also accomplish one of the above.

However, my goal is to make the world a better place today. The solution is simple.

Just as the sun brightens the rainiest of days, a smile brightens the bluest of dispositions.

Every morning I wake, I open my eyes and my soul to the sun, and vow to spread the light around.