This I Believe

Raffaella Meloni - New York, New York
Entered on January 19, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: hope
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I believe that hope is a universal necessity. Everyone needs something to hope for, and in difficult times it’s even more important. It helps us find meaning and allows us to imagine a way out of problems or unhappiness, gives us a goal.

A generation ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about hope to people who were downtrodden because of the color of their skin. “If you lose hope,” he said, “somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.” Forty years later when Barack Obama spoke of hope, he motivated people to work towards a better tomorrow and he united the nation. “We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope,” he said. “But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”

These great leaders reminded us that hope gets people through difficult times. They reminded us that though hope is personal, it can also unite a country as diverse as ours. It is more than just a dream; it is what enables us to make dreams become reality. We might not be aware of it, but it’s always there, in our hearts, ready to take flight.

Emily Dickenson wrote,

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune—without the words,

And never stops at all

Hope is the thing that flies you to a better place. This poem reminds me of the sad times in my life, like when my mom got breast cancer and when my parents divorced. During those times I had hope that things would turn out okay for me, my parents, and my family. That hope helped me through those times: my mom got better and my family made it through the divorce. Having hope helped me through each difficult day.

Hope is part of us, it’s there if we want it. It doesn’t abandon us, but we often abandon it. The words of Dr. King, President Obama, and Emily Dickenson inspire me; remind me to never give up. This is especially true now, as I hear about people losing their jobs and life savings. Many worry about the future and how they will provide for their families. Barak Obama was elected President because he offered Americans hope for a better future, as Dr. King offered hope to minorities when they had few opportunities or equal rights. It was hope that helped us change our country and elect our first African-American President.

The image of hope as a bird perched on your soul ready to take flight represents the optimism in each of us. I understand why hope is important in my life. I’ve learned that hope itself will improve my life, make me stronger, as it can for everyone, regardless of who we are or where we come from. That is what makes it universal.