This I Believe
I believe in free radicals. Science defines free radicals as molecules that contain at least one unpaired electron. They are not normal. They are super reactive, spurring others to suddenly gain and lose electrons and causing massive chain reactions. They are not customary, they hard to contain, and they act far outside of the normal behavior of molecules. They cannot leave their encounters without causing a lasting change.
I believe that our country has been created and changed over time by free radicals. Free radicals not in a biological sense, but free radical men and women, citizens who are cast from a different mold and are willing to accept and articulate those things that make them distinct. We need these people, their differences make us realize our similarities, and if those things that have created our norms are shown to be wrong, the existence of free radicals often serves to show us a new and better path. The Americas were discovered by a free radical sailing here from Spain, boats full of free radicals later left King George in search of religious change. Men, from Martin Luther King to Bono, and women from Susan B. Anthony to Cindy Sheehan have taught us that, even if we don’t agree with them, there are reasons to question the status quo. The ability to ask those questions, the ability to utilize our differences, is our greatest strength as a country. We must act with kindness, debate with civility, and give those among us who view themselves as the instigators of change a chance to be heard.
My sister Sarah is one of those people. From a young age Sarah was different, as a baby she used to eat Kleenex out of the box and nibble sticks of butter. Today, she is a far cry from what would be called your “average” girl, she thinks, acts, talks, and dresses differently than the norms of society. One might view this as a threat, “normalcy” is so often thought of as the glue that binds and holds our country together. But her friends, family and classmates would disagree.. The chain reaction she began has disrupted many norms that should exist at a high school, still, everyone seem to have benefited from her unconventional presence in their lives. Cliques have been bridged, cross-cultural friendships have been forged and preconceptions have been changed. She is not of the norm, her very presence radiates new life, uncommon thoughts and wisdom, and the ability to share those things must be what defines us. She has taught me that individualism must not only be accepted, but must be promoted.
I know that individuals can make a difference; you can see it every day if you look in the right places. We must learn not to fear those that break the mold, but to offer them the opportunity to show us the reasons why the mold should be broken.
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