This I Believe

Lindsey - Birmingham, Alabama
Entered on January 28, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in identity. I believe in taking the initiative to learn about issues, to form an opinion, to evaluate who you really are/ what you genuinely accept as “truth”. I believe in the right and in the need to question cultural, moral, and political “absolutes” we are taught as hard “truths.” Many of us have a disease: we blindly let our minds atrophy, infected by propaganda and apathy. A few years ago I happened to serve as a prime example of the effects of this epidemic.

In every culture man is born into the “formula” of that society. Ideals and absolutes trail from the history of individual cultures. Unfortunately sometimes preconceived ideals can cultivate a certain irrational prejudice against other areas of thought. We are taught from childhood what is “right” and what is “wrong” by dumping issues one by one into a formula of societal ethos. Subconsciously our cultural “cliques” spew propaganda and prejudice into our ears, trying to secure the new generation in the mold of the old. Everyone wants to have a niche that they can conform to. Society easily fulfils this desire. When we are finally asked what we believe, and forced to give our “opinion”, we know exactly what to believe and what to shun from what we have grown up learning. We are apt to take the opportunity to look like we actually have thought about it.

A while ago I found myself in a predicament of “identity.” Following the prompts of my societal “formula,” I walked into to the uncontrolled madcap land of Junior High. Embarrassingly enough, I remember quoting ideas about subjects I knew nothing about besides what I heard my parents and teachers say. I also remember the moment that changed. One day, sitting in English class and listening to a lecture on the proper way to prepare a biographical book report, it hit me. Was the diorama the only way to truly create a proper report? In the following arbitrary self argument I realized something: I was brainless, working off whatever I was given. I was a dog to my societal master. I was disgusted, so I decided to change things. I started to research. After about a year I started writing papers to myself, arguing both sides of issues (beyond book reports), and finding out what I really thought. I stopped fearing unawareness. I stopped worrying about being wrong. Destroying this apprehension has shaped my life today more than any other act. It isn’t an issue of finding personal absolutes. I debate because I want to learn to ask questions and think independently. With learning I gained purpose. I believe in stripping off self-consciousness, and using personal initiative. I believe in identity.