Understanding: The Third Gift

Lance - Park Hills, Missouri
Entered on December 9, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: tolerance

Look at the world we live in: homosexuals can’t marry, kids shoot up schools, and people are shunned because of their beliefs. Why? Because too many people lack the patience — or want — to try to understand others. They see something they don’t agree with and automatically say, “Oh, that’s stupid.” Marge Piercy once said, “Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third.” I believe people should take the time to understand others. I don’t want my kids to grow up in a world where a person’s sexual orientation causes their family to disown them or where school-kids make a student an outcast because they wear all black. In class we read an article about a suicide bomber; the interviewer was trying to take the time to understand why the bomber wanted to sacrifice himself. The first reaction to be heard while reading this story was “That’s stupid!” It’s not really stupid if you take the time to understand him. He does it because it’s his religion; it’s what he’s been taught: if he sacrifices himself, he’ll get into “Paradise,” the same way Christians have been taught that if they be good people and live a fulfilling life, they’ll get into Heaven. Now, understanding doesn’t mean to necessarily take on that person’s beliefs and live like they do; it just means to realize why they do and respect that — not shun them because they think differently. It is my belief that if everybody would take the time to do this one simple thing, the world would be a much better place. I used to not think like this. I used to be like many other people and just go through my day-to-day life and laugh at people who believed differently than I; but then I woke up. I looked around at the world around me and was enlightened. We’re all the same person, just thinking and acting differently. We’re all trying to find happiness in our own ways. Not everyone does it the same way of course; but we’re all still trying to reach happiness. What makes me happy is writing and reading and having fun. What makes someone else happy I may not agree with, such as a serial killer, but I’ve come to understand that they’re just trying to be happy, just like me. That doesn’t mean I think they shouldn’t be punished, but I understand why they do it. And that’s what understanding means. And that’s what I believe