This I Believe

Lee - Altamont, New York
Entered on April 18, 2007

I believe that as children and young adults we have the capacity to be nicer to one another and more accepting of one another despite the way we may behave now.

In my school I have seen nearly every major and minor form of prejudice you can think of. Our school is seen as one of the most sophisticated in the area. It is a facility where the community is largely made up of well to-do people living in quiet neighborhoods with white picket fences. But despite their comfortable environment, my peers can be quite vicious when it comes to interacting with people who are different than themselves. Our school focuses largely on informing kids about acceptance and tolerance. But despite their efforts and the student’s smiling faces, the adults are unaware of what goes on when their backs are turned.

A friend of mine walks down the hallway holding hands with her girlfriend, walking her to her next class. Other girls in her grade walk by in the opposite direction and glare. Comments are coughed after they have passed each other. This happens almost everyday.

Another friend is chatting with a group of kids in the lunchroom and confides in them that she believes in God. They all start laughing, and a young gentleman graces her shoulder with his fist. These two instances happened in the same day.

But beliefs are not the only thing that teenagers will ruthlessly pounce on. A typical student here will tune someone else out if they simply dress differently. We are starting to unnoticeably dehumanize each other. But is this really our natural way of thinking? Are children simply hard-wired to hate, sometimes for no reason at all? I honestly don’t think so. Teenagers are most certainly more irrational than most adults, so it’s certainly just a matter of time before change occurs in a person. But I don’t think we have to wait so long for this to happen. I think that with a little more oomph from our mentors we’ll be able to see the light faster. While prejudice will always exist in the world on a more serious scale, we have the capacity to drop our more minor grudges against music tastes and hairdos. We can finally stop being told to walk in each other’s shoes, and actually go ahead and do it.