This I Believe

May 26, 2008
By Hunter DeKoninck, Dulles, VA

I exchange gazes with a boy, shoeless and coated in dust. But in the midst of his apparent troubles, he constructs an eternal smile, one I will not forget. This is a sight that I often see when I go home to Nigeria. And taking these experiences leaves me contemplating. As we study all forms of nature, from the great expanse of the universe down to the basics of an atom, one will, instinctively, search out the meaning of life. As all life forms move through the cycle from creation to death, something leaves me thinking, “there must be more to the story.” Are we alive to enjoy the thrill of life simply because we can? Or are we here to leave an imprint on this world as we live in accordance to our own dreams? Identifying what we believe in is the only way to find these answers. As for me, I do not want to believe I am just another walking and breathing piece of living tissue, but instead a person with a progressive mind who feels he has a direct influence and importance on others lives.
Although I am young, I have traveled to some interesting places where I have seen countless people who, at first glance, seem to have little meaning. For example, living in Nigeria has given me great experiences which have given me great insight on this very topic. It is not until one looks past their misfortunes that the meaning and dreams in their life begin to light up. However, the majority of the western culture believes, impoverished nations hold people who have little or no purpose in this world. For instance take the genocides which have happened time and time again while the developed world turns a blind eye. Does anyone else believe these lives hold value? Or are we too engulfed with our personal aspirations rather than lending a hand to neighbors?
When I visit a third world town/village, I see people who have hearts, people who have free-thinking minds, most importantly, people who know they have a given purpose to humanity. However, one may wonder what purpose they have? There are two ways to approach this thought. One, their sole importance is to let the world know there are always those who live under harsh conditions and need our help. Or two, their dreams are held back by the external forces keeping them indigent and not allowing their purpose to be fulfilled. Regardless of the stance you hold on this, we all can agree that an importance is found in all lives.
As for my own purpose, time will only tell where I will be led. Whether it is on foreign soil or the countryside of the Midwest, my dreams will lead me to a place where I will be happy and feel a sense of accomplishment. Now I don’t mean to debate the meaning of life, but I believe we live in a world that has provided the freedoms necessary for each of us to impact someone or something before death. I believe that we are more than a simple minded creature. We are beings who decide both, who we are and what we do with what has been given. Knowing this, we must ensure all to have the opportunity to fulfill their purpose before their cycle reaches its end.

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