This I Believe

Mark - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Entered on January 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: equality

I believe that equality is a necessary part of life. Picture a classroom scene without it. Two students turning in identical work could get completely different grades. The classroom would be a disaster zone, full of chaos. However, because we have fair and just teachers in most classrooms, it is a system we can trust and rely on. Equality keeps everything we do in balance.

Thomas Jefferson said “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.” So what defines equality? It does not always mean everyone gets exactly the same things or the same treatment. Rather it is a way of leveling the playing field to give everyone a fair shot at their goals. For example, children with a mental disability don’t have a good chance of competing with other children without one. To have a truly equal opportunity, the handicapped kids would need extra care and attention. This would guarantee them a fair and equal chance in life, whereas equal treatment of everybody would leave them far behind others.

Because I grew up in a religious family, the ideas of fairness and equality have surrounded me my entire life. As I matured, I began to realize that equality wasn’t always equal. Those with special needs always got the extra attention necessary for them to participate at everyone else’s level. I saw this demonstrated at my school, at my church, and even in my home in how people needing more help were treated.

With all this around me during my childhood, my view of equality slowly changed from making sure everyone got the same amount of candy, to helping the people who needed it more. Through this realization, I started to treat others differently. If I noticed a person in need of help, I offered assistance to them before racing through my own problems.

Eventually, it became more of regularity than a task, and I realized I enjoyed it. Seeing an injustice was harder for me than trying to fix it. Standing by and watching someone be treated unfairly was something I just couldn’t do. Then, I came to realize that a part of me felt better and more completed fighting for something I believe in. By trying to help others, I was really helping myself.

The idea of helping others evolved into a part of me. I felt bad when I didn’t stand up for it. Similarly, I felt my best when I was noticing and changing unfairness around me. Equality became necessary in my life. In order for me to feel whole and complete as a person, I believe in equality.