My parents always felt it was important to instill in their children strong moral values, in order to form integral and well- rounded citizens. I was the youngest of six, so when I was born everybody had already estabished their identity. I was raised in a Catholic enviornment, and was taught my beliefs, never was I challenged to prove why I believed what I believed in. As I grew older I began to notice that everybody in my enviornment shared the same values and principles. We all believed that a healthy family consisted of the perfect parents and smart children. Sunday’s were routine days, where everybody would go to the same church and then to brunch at the country club. Up until nineth grade, my beliefs were mainly co- dependant on the influence of the people in my community.
In tenth grade I had the great opportunity to study abroad in Madrid. Stepping out of my “bubble,” opened my eyes to a new world. The family I lived with was very liberal, and completely opposite to mine; everybody was very independent, and the conversations at the dinner table were very controversial and personal. I was often placed in very uncomftorable situations, where I was interrogated on the dogmas of the Catholic Church and it’s stricts beliefs. They used many arguments, supported by historical evidence, in order to change my perspective, influencing me to believe in the churchs’ “corruption.”
These arguments caused me to re-evaluate my beliefs. I came to find that my beliefs were strong and valid, I just had to find them on my own and not doubt.
Meeting and dialogoing with people abroad led me to be less judgmental. Madrid was a wonderful expierience which allowed me to discover my identity and the why’s, how’s, and what’s of all my beliefs, on family, religion and politics. Living abroad was a true learning expierience, where I learned that not everybody comes from movie style families, and our world is a better place because of that. My beliefs remain very similar to what they were as a child, I continue to grow in my Catholic faith and in my relationship with God. Through my travels I have come to value the authenticity of each individual, and feel that one should never be judged on their beliefs. Our world continues to evolve and grow in diversity; because of this, I believe we should put an end to racism and discrimination, respecting others political and religious beliefs. Ultimately, trading out violence for world peace.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.