This I Believe

Houston Public Radio’s “This I Believe” with Charles de Kanter

Charlie, as his friends and family call him, moved to Texas as a young boy.  Charlie’s father was in the oil business and was transferred here from Maryland.  While attending Stephen F. Austin University in Nacodoches, Charlie met his wife.  They have two children and live in the Woodlands.  In his essay, Charlie describes an experience that led him see the world and the people in it, a little differently.

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Charlie received a degree in Radio-Television-Speech-Journalism from SFA.   Charlie says it didn’t lead to a job in Radio or TV, but it did teach him valuable communication skills that help him in his current work in the oil and gas business.  Charlie’s two young children are the joy of his life.  His son is 6 and his daughter is 4, and they’re a constant source of pleasure.  Charlie and his wife live just a few miles from his parents and he says the entire family is quite close.  During Charlie’s commute each morning and afternoon, he listens to KUHF and that’s how he heard about This I Believe.  He was reminded of an experience a few years ago that had an affect on him.  It led him to view the people around him in a new and more forgiving way.  He believes it’s made his life better and more fulfilling.

Here’s Charles de Kanter with his essay for Houston Public Radio’s This I Believe.

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“I believe there is some goodness in all people.

My belief began several years ago when my cousin’s car was broken into.  The break-in happened shortly after she moved to Houston from New Jersey.  I remember trying to persuade her to come to Houston – extolling the virtue of our city, and how great it was to live here.  I also remember that phone call she made to me, asking me to come pick her up after the break-in, since it had rendered her car undriveable.

When I arrived on the scene, I glanced quickly into her car at all the cut wires hanging out of the dashboard.  I recall how mad I was, and the venomous epithets I spouted in the car on the way back home.  I felt that someone had broken the wonderful promises I made to my cousin about Houston. Finishing my tirade, we rode a few minutes in silence.  She finally turned to me and said, ‘You know, even that guy who broke into my car has some good in him.’

I was shocked.  How could she let it go so easily?  But as the years have gone by, I have found myself trying to instill in others what she taught me that night — I believe that there is goodness in all people.

I know – cue the eye roll.  But I think the important thing that changed has been my perspective.  I have learned to presume that other people want to share their goodness much more than any harm they might want to commit.  I no longer walk down the street and view everyone with suspicion.  Of course I’m cautious.  But I no longer think that the homeless guy on the corner wants to hurt me simply because life has afforded me certain comforts that he might not have.  I remind myself that every stranger is not bad simply because they are guilty of being someone I don’t know. 

I enjoy smiling and saying hello to people.  I like to help strangers with directions, or to change a tire, or hold the door open for others.  I especially enjoy the role reversal.  I love to see someone’s demeanor change and their surprised face light up a little when they smile or say hello back. Because that means they might have changed their opinions a little bit, too.  Maybe they can see the goodness in me, and maybe I’ve left them with the same belief that there is goodness in all people.  This I believe.”

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