I was in my world history class and we were discussing China during the time of the Qin (Ch’in) dynasty. During this time in China their ruler, Shi Huangdi, made all of his citizens convert to Legalism, a harsh philosophy that was much like a dictatorship. Our teacher decided that we would have a debate over the question: Should the government have the right to restrict people’s beliefs? I decided to join the team that would argue ‘No, government should not have that right’. I was somewhat shocked that the other side held almost all of my class. By the toss of a coin it was decided that my team would go second. The other side started out by saying that if the government did not limit people’s beliefs, then would it not be against the law to kill people? I then said, “Well, do realize you’re talking about action. Yes of course it should be against the law to kill people, but if you think it and never under any circumstances put those thoughts into actions, then there’s no harm done.”
“Another thing to consider is, if all of the citizens believe the same thing then you have a unified country,” said a girl from the opposing team.
“Yeah, cause if your country is being attacked, that’s when it’s really helpful to have all the people of that country unified,” said another. I thought for a moment until I realized that this was precisely what happened in Germany when Adolf Hitler tried to unify his country. I then said this, and was immediately bombarded with “So, are you calling me Hitler?”
“I’m not calling you anything. I’m simply stating that while your intentions may be good, you can see how previous attempts at this have miserably failed,” I said.
“So you believe that it’s okay for polygamy to be legal?” said another girl.
“Not at all. But you can’t say it’s illegal to believe it’s right, especially when it has to do with religion. Mormons may still believe that polygamy is right, but most of them do not act on those beliefs,” I said.
“That is so disgusting. I cannot believe you just said that. I will never talk to a Mormon in my life. They’re so scary,” she responded. When she said this all I could think about was all the people that she won’t meet because of her stereotype she inflicts on Mormons and any other group of people she’s learned to fear. And with that thought, I let go of my stereotypes and all the ones I associated with other people. Because of this, I have gotten to know people I never would have dreamed of knowing. My advice to you is this: let go of stereotypes and that feeling of being better than some people or worse than others, because we are all equal when you get down to it. None of us are who we seem to be from our label. This I believe.
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