This I Believe

Liz - Houston, Texas
Entered on February 5, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Egalitarianism: Rediscovering an Old Concept

I believe that discrimination is used by close-minded, immature people. I believe that people who discriminate are not comfortable with themselves, and feel the need to put others down to raise their own self-esteem. Above all, I believe that discrimination goes unnoticed too often.

In my sheltered life, I have not witnessed many discriminatory situations, however, when I was eleven years old, I became aware of my first. A boy sitting by himself at recess wore a collared shirt, thick glasses, and khaki pants that were too short. Compared to the other kids who wore fitted jeans and t-shirts, he stuck out like a sore thumb. He was reading a book when two larger kids singled him out and began shoving him and calling him names. Although the boy had done nothing to them, the bullies were insecure with themselves and chose someone who was easily put down. As I watched this take place, I became sick to my stomach and decided that I needed to intervene for two reasons. Firstly, according to my religious views and morals, one must stand up for other people and in what one believes. Secondly, I personally believe it is almost as cruel to be a spectator who does nothing, as it is to be the bully.

At thirteen, I witnessed a more subtle case of discrimination. I was reentering a hotel my family was visiting, when I noticed a uniformed figure out of the corner of my eye. At second glance, I identified him as a stereotypical, minimum-waged doorman. When a struggling musician stationed himself near the entrance, he would kindly ask them to move on, as directed by his manager, but he would also slip a few coins in their tattered guitar case from his own pocket. His job required him only to smile and tip his hat at the visitors, however he went above and beyond when it came to being a Good Samaritan. The majority of those who passed by acknowledged him with a nod, but it seemed that a select few ignored him because he was not as well off as them. I immediately realized that this treatment was wrong.

Although these are more recent, subtle examples, discrimination isn’t a new concept. In 1933, over a span of about fifteen years, Adolf Hitler managed to convince nearly an entire country that a single race is inferior to all others. He told the people of Germany that the Jewish population was responsible for the country’s problems. There were several reasons behind his decision to single out the Jews; perhaps the most important was the fact that they didn’t fit Germany’s stereotypical Aryan appearance. This act of extreme discrimination caused the death of millions of innocent people.

I believe that discrimination goes unnoticed too often. From the time I became aware of discrimination, I have continued to do everything in my power to help people in discriminatory situation. More importantly, I do my best to treat everyone with the same respect.