This I Believe

Emili - Port Trevorton, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 1, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: tolerance

I believe in tolerance, in the belief that it is one’s character that defines him, not his sexual orientation, skin color, religion, or even wealth. I feel that judgments should not be made about an individual without even saying one word to him. Open minds is what this ever changing world needs as cultures become even greater prevalent. The earth craves for tolerance. It is just as a necessity as oxygen or fresh water. However, it is unfortunately not always regarded with as much emphasis.

I experienced lack of tolerance first hand. Last summer I traveled to Harrisburg’s Pride Day to support a friend who did not want to go alone. The streets were packed with rainbow banners, rainbow balloons, and rainbow flags. You name it, it was manufactured in rainbow. The morning parade was a blast as the streets stretched from east to west with an all accepting, tolerant crowd. However, we were not so lucky to remain surrounded by these open minds. Our brief rainbow euphoria was abruptly ended when a harsh man’s voice boomed over a megaphone harsh criticisms and judgments I would not even wish upon my worst enemy. “You’re going to Hell!” he screamed, his voice growing hoarse. It was in this instant that my heart dropped to my stomach. Not only did my heart go out to my friend, directly targeted by his attack, but it also caused great uneasiness in my own body. I am by no means gay. I am one hundred percent heterosexual without a doubt in my mind. However, as I walked down the cracked sidewalk I could feel the pain as this stranger thrust me into the shoes of another individual. This man did not know me. He was ignorant of the fact that I have dedicated much of my time helping the poor, that I attend church every Sunday, and that I genuinely hope to make a difference in this world. But none of this mattered. In his hasty generalization he saw me as one thing, a homosexual. He branded me with his first glance. I was selfishly angered by his fast comments to me, but what about those who were homosexual? He spoke as if they were diseased, infected. Personally, I felt that my barely one hundred and thirty pound, red headed friend, dressed in a tight pink polo, was more of a man than the body that belonged to the screaming voice would ever be.

Tolerance is easy to ignore and disregard when you are not the one being judged. However, I guarantee it will only take one a brief thirty seconds in the position of the victim receiving the hasty judgments to realize its true importance and necessity. I believe in tolerance because what truly lies within the soul of an individual is not discernable by height, weight, skin color, or whom they fall in love with. Who am I to say that they are wrong?