This I Believe

Robert - Madisonville, Louisiana
Entered on February 15, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I will never forget the day I found out my fellow soldier, and friend, was arrested for rape. As bad as rape is this case was even worse. The report said the victim was a 12 year old child. Hearing this news came as a great shock to me as I had recently spent a weekend with him and some other people for training exercises. At first many questions passed through my mind. Were these allegations true? And if so, how could a person who seemed so respectful and caring commit such a horrific crime? With these and many other questions left unanswered, I came to another realization; I would never see my friend again.

How could a person who cared so much about his country, his community, and others do such a horrifying thing? I remember hearing stories from my friend of him volunteering at local elementary schools and about the year he spent fighting for his country in Iraq. I began wondering how this person who I thought I knew had tricked me into believing he was such a good-hearted, happy person.

At first I began to tell myself that it was all just a well-executed act and that he had done quite a job of fooling me and everyone else in his life, and that deep down he was just a bad person. And then I realized it wasn’t all just an act, and that just because this man had done wrong doesn’t automatically discount all the good he had done throughout his life. I realized that we are all humans and that everyone is capable of doing good just as everyone is capable of doing wrong. The horrible choice that my friend made that night changed his and others lives forever but this didn’t mark all of who this man was. This evil deed was only part of what made him, but not everything, and it sure didn’t discredit his positive influences on society.

This event also caused me to question my beliefs concerning forgiveness. Although this man will spend the rest of his life in prison, and I as well as society will probably never forgive him for the crime he committed, I still try to focus more on the positive deeds he did rather than one poor decision he made. This made me reconsider the way I look at people on a day to day basis and my outlook on my own life. Where as I used to hear something bad about a person and change my positive opinion of them as a person I now try to focus more on the positive qualities of that person. For example, when I figured out my neighbor’s son broke into my car and stole my stereo, I also thought of the time the kid had helped me haul debris out of my yard after the hurricane. This good deed didn’t outweigh him stealing my stereo but it did help me realize that sometimes people make good decisions and sometimes they make poor ones.

I also apply this belief of forgiveness to myself. Even though at times I may make some poor decisions, I still focus on my positive actions and try to learn from the poor decisions I make. I also try to help guide my younger siblings when I can because I know they can make both good and bad decisions and that the people in their life greatly influence the decisions they make.