Hanging almost 3,500 feet above a tropical rainforest, I felt the entirety of my life come crashing down on me in giant waves. Exasperated by my ironic fear of heights, I hung from the zip line, stuck and regretful. Just an hour ago I had remarked that if I died, at least I would be doing something cool. However, upon reaching the point of near death, or at least in my mind since minutes later I was retrieved and pulled to safety by one of the workers, I felt like I would be leaving this earth too soon.

It is a feeling that we all come by – one of unfinished business, a destiny left incomplete. A legacy left unfulfilled and a purpose left unfound When we are finally left alone on those long nights and have to look ourselves in the face, we are forced to ask the tough questions; Who are we? What are we meant to do? Who are we meant to be? It is both from personal philosophy and religious belief that I am compelled to believe that we all have a purpose in life – that, deep down, we all want to strive to do our best and impact the people and world around us in a positive way.

However, we live in a world of chaos. Every day a Black man or woman is shot, they are denied their opportunity to find their purpose. Every day a Latino man, woman, or child is incarcerated, deported, or left to starve, they are denied their opportunity to find their purpose. Every day a transgender person is sexually assaulted or denied access to something as simple as urinating in a public bathroom, they are denied their opportunity to find their purpose. Every time a person turns to drugs in order to fight starvation, they are denied their opportunity to find their purpose. For many people living in the Untied States, life is purposeless. Every day, we deny thousands of people the chance to discover who they are meant to be. We deny them the opportunity to impact people, to better themselves. And after we dampen their lights and crush their souls, then we proceed to marginalize these people in a category of “hopeless people”, those who simply “don’t want to help themselves.”

Those people do not get to linger on the precipice of life with the privilege of asking if they fulfilled their purpose. Most of the time, they just die, thinking the same thing of themselves that many of us thought of them – nothin. What I ask is a simple request. It is that as we move forward, we begin to give each and every human being the inherent worth and dignity that they deserve. That despite their conditions and mistakes, and despite our preconceived notions and stereotypes, we acknowledge that deep down there is good. That in finding our own purpose, we make sure to uplift others. That in searching for success, we look toward success for all. That instead of contemplating what we did in life we do more. I ask that in politics, in our social lives, and in our finances we strive to help give purpose to others.

As the zip line employee finally pulled me safety, I stumbled a bit to get to my feet, eyes still full of fear and apprehension. He reached out his hand, helped me stand up, and I began to walk. 

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