Forget the Mirror, Look Around You

Tonya - Indianapolis, Indiana
Entered on January 15, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

On January 12, 2009, Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy decided that it was time for him to step aside and follow his higher calling. After all he has done for our Indianapolis community, I can only wonder what a “higher calling” could be. One thing I do know, however, is that he is leaving behind a legacy that is about more than football. With his retirement, I am positive that he can now reach out to even more people across the world and help and teach them as he has helped and taught Indianapolis’s residents. What I believe is that the single best and efficient way we can better our world is to lead by example.

The cycle is prominent in our society – children are becoming more violent because of gory video games. Teenagers are having children because of sexual references on each and every TV show. People are growing up to become drug addicts because they saw their older siblings and their friends do the same thing. Young girls are starving themselves because they see that celebrities are 90 lbs, which must be normal. People – youth, in particular – are parrots of society. And although we have seen the negative effects of the equation, my belief is that it works the reverse way, too.

Imagine a world where “Two and a Half Men” displayed the kind of morale that Tony Dungy does. Maybe this is a little far-fetched, but we can all do our share in turning our youth’s worlds around, and ultimately turning them around, too. Being a positive influence doesn’t exactly mean teaching your younger siblings right from wrong. Being a positive influence means doing right yourself. Because no matter what you tell them, youth will still make themselves a mirror image of what they see.

As a little girl, I remember that living with my mom wasn’t the best situation for me. And looking back, I realize that she did a lot of things that could have potentially turned my life into a disaster. Luckily, though I was young, I didn’t pick up on any of her habits before I finally got out. My older brother, however, was almost completely raised by her and now pays the consequences. The choices he makes today accurately mirror the way my mom made choices as we were growing up. Day by day, I can see him becoming her. On the other hand, I have been with my dad and step mom since I was ten, and because of their positive influence, I will ultimately be much better off. The reason I think my older brother and I are polar opposites is because we have had different sets of parents at the most vital points in our lives.

Needless to say, the most outstanding factor in determining the measure of a person’s success or morale in life is their influences – their parents, friends, teachers, and surroundings. People around you will mimic your behavior – that is, your actions. You should be proud of what the people around you become.