Some Good in This World

Throughout my life, when I have studied and learned about the history of this planet, I have heard many stories of mankind’s unsettling capacity for violence, cruelty, xenophobia, hatred, and greed. Too many times, I have read or learned about a historical event where humanity took these sins to their absolute worst levels. The Civil Rights Movement. The Holocaust. The American-Indian Massacres. The Era of American Slavery. All of these events left a nauseatingly long trail of ruined lives and dead innocents in their wake. These types of tragedies have happened far too often in human history. It’s easy for many of us to lose faith in our species, but at the end of the tunnel of tragedy is a light of hope. For even in the darkest eras of human history, humans have proven that while their capacity for evil is great, their capacity for good is even greater. I have learned about many instances where a select few people have risen up above base instinct and xenophobia so as to help others. For example, Martin Luther King was not only a fierce advocate for civil rights, but he did so without resorting to violence. He preached the ideals of fighting with words rather than bullets, and his followers behaved exactly as he pleaded for them to. Even when faced with overwhelming odds and constant threats from his enemies, he never once lashed out in rage.

Throughout my life, I have always believed that despite our flaws, humans have an unbelievably huge capacity for good. Learning about people like Martin Luther King and growing up surrounded by family and friends who accepted me for who I was helped to strengthen my belief that if me and my loved ones could accept and love each other unconditionally, then humanity has that potential as well. If you wish to see more modern examples of humankind’s capacity for good, then you needn’t look very far to find them. All around the United States, and the world at large, you will come across thousands of organizations dedicated to helping others, acting on the ideals of compassion. Philadelphia is the home city of Project HOME, a homelessness rehabilitation program that takes homeless people off the streets and provides them with housing, job opportunities and training, medical care, education, and all of a citizen’s basic necessities while teaching them to fend for themselves. Philadelphia is also home to the Saved Me Animal Shelter, an anti-euthanasia shelter that actually rescues other dogs and cats from pro-euthanasia shelters and keeps them safe and warm until they get adopted. These two selfless organizations help to fully cement Philadelphia’s reputation as the city of “brotherly love,” and I have had the honor of volunteering for both of them in the past. While at the animal shelter, I helped by folding laundry, cleaning windows, playing with the animals, washing the chalkboard, and scooping the litter boxes. At Project HOME, I worked at the medical clinic shredding old documents so as to make room for new patients. Even though my work at the clinic was clerical at most, I was confident that in one way or another, I was making quite an impact on the community and helping many homeless people to avoid getting sick, or worse. During my orientation day the beginning of my two-week volunteer session, I also got to hear from a formerly homeless man who told us how Project HOME helped him to become a productive member of society. Not only was I inspired by his story, but I also learned that when you look beneath all of the stigma and stereotypes, homeless people are really no different from what society considers “normal” people.

Not only have I had the honor of working for Project HOME and Saved Me Animal Shelter, but I have also helped make commitments to science and the understanding of Autism. You see, since Autism is such a mysterious and strange condition (which many people have even arrogantly labeled a mental disorder), people tend to be afraid of what it is and if it will harm people. Others even taunt and tease people with Autism because they believe that their victims are not as intelligent as people without Autism. Some parents actually refuse to give their children vaccinations because they see some non-existent connection between vaccinations and Autism. My volunteering to have X-Ray images taken of my brain and to do computer games for Autism research have helped to improve the scientific community’s knowledge of it and I am confident it will help to allay people’s fears of the harm Autism has the potential to cause. I foresee that in time, people will come to see people with Autism not as mentally defective or insane, but simply as regular people whose minds just work a little differently than others.