People have become more polarized than ever. Conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans seem to have separated over all issues in our country from the War in Iraq to public healthcare.
I believe that individuals should form their own beliefs, not simply conform to a group; I experienced such conformity early on.
In the August of 2000, I had just moved to California and I was also introduced to the American political system during that heated presidential race between Al Gore and George Bush. Even though I was only in the fifth grade, my fellow classmates pressured me to follow their beliefs. I remember writing: “Gore is good. Bush is bad.” Even though I was only ten years old and I knew nothing of America’s history or political system, I followed the dictations of my peers and narrow-mindedly saw the race in black and white.
After the election was over and, to my horror, George Bush was the victor I expressed my discontent to my father. He then responded with something like “Why should you care? You don’t even know the issues of the election.” It was then that I realized how blind-sighted I had been. I had known nothing about either candidate, save my previous conviction that “Gore is good. Bush is bad.” I realized then that there was more than one side to every issue, that we should not stand our beliefs on the base of others’.
Now, when I listen to talk radio or class discussions, I take what I hear with a grain of salt. By listening to and reading a variety of sources, I have been able to form my own beliefs about issues affecting our nation: from the prevalence of racism to issues around illegal immigration.
I believe that we should not conform to a group’s ideas. People should form their own opinions on what they think is true and just, not what other’s believe is true and just.
However, when we go out into the world to find what we believe, we should not simply disregard things that groups or parties believe. Sure, we can listen to and adopt what others have to say, but we should decide for ourselves how to deal with the issues that affect our lives.
The next time that I blindly sort out current events and issues into “good” or “bad,” I will remember my father’s philosophy of understanding. I will believe in myself.
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