This I Believe

Zijun (Jenny) - Gilbert, Arizona
Entered on September 28, 2006

This I Believe

It seems that every time I turn on a T.V., flip through the newspaper, or surf a news website, there is never a shortage of reports on the series of religious disputes in the Middle East, new strategies for the war in Iraq, protest marches in China, or another Democratic campaign launched, only to be countered by some Republican rally. If I’m lucky enough, I might be able to cruise through the commercial breaks without watching two contradicting Arizonan senator campaign “advertisements”, one after another, leaving me utterly confused. I always hear my mother groaning, “When will these things ever end?” However, these fervent protests and intellectual debates are the evidence that shows differences in opinions, elucidating the diversity of thought and people in our world, and I believe this discourse is important.

I have recently come back from attending an international school in China for a year. In my international classroom, there were at least six different nationalities in one room (including the teacher) and each student spoke an average of three languages. It was a place where my friend who grew up in Mexico, born in Japan, called two pieces of bread with vegetable and meats layered in between a “torta”; A Thai classmate whose Buddhist pendant around her neck—that cannot be touched by another for it is the ultimate disrespect–is best friends with a girl whose family members are devoted Christians. Whether it was in class discussions, club planning, or even just getting the scoop on the latest gossip, everyone spiced up the conversation by bringing ideas from their cultural milieus, their personal beliefs, and their individual thinking. Together, we created an international forum: we shared, debated, collaborated, compromised, accepted, and found a common ground of truth which defined our various opinions. Somehow, this instills within me a pride in knowing that such a rich mix of culture strives in our world.

Without multiplicity of thought, everyone would be identical. There would be no “tortas”, no debates, no culture, no meaningful history. Without differences, the world would be like a stagnant swamp without winds or discharge, infested and opaque. It is unable to flow towards the sea of ideas, where the currents strike waves, thunderous or calm, pushing forward the waters of thoughts through the cycles of history.

I believe that diversity, whether it be in race, ethnicity, political parties, religion, belief, history, wealth, oe]r opinion is the factor that brings forth critical thinking and advancement in human philosophy. We are able to—in ordinary households or between nations—learn to stand in someone else’s shoes and unravel the truth or create a solution.

I believe in the need and the value for people to be different and develop formulated opinions. Therefore, at sixteen, a Chinese-American, I dare to advocate my belief.