I believe that Americans do not place a large enough value on the individual and introspection. When trying to decide what I believed in, I faltered. What do I believe? I believe the weather in Seattle is too wet. I believe when I try harder in school and on my tennis team, I perform better. I believe that making people laugh and enjoy themselves is one of my favorite things to do. But, other than all this, I do not really believe in much. I have a belief in God that has found its birth in sporadic visits to church, the hazy stream of consciousness lectures from my junior year psychology teacher, and the satisfactory definition given to the idea by one of my peers. I believe in the United States Constitution, I believe in the right to vote, I believe in having a family, I can believe in just about anything that can be ascribed a feeling. But, without an ability to check my gut and to know my reactionary response to an idea, I am usually indifferent and in many cases I have no motivation to change this lack of interest. I do not place enough importance on introspection and I believe that not many people do.
I remember my experience in the public school system and the standardized testing, the focus on national averages and performing well enough to gain distinction above all of the other “normal” kids. But what did this testing mean, that you could focus a little better, that you could remember some algebra with more detail or really nail the differences in usage between “than” and ”then”? Yes, intelligence is very important, especially in this age with such large amounts of it, with people spilling over the edges in competition for places at colleges and job opportunities, but what more is a person than a being, with a body and a brain to make decisions? What use is that person if they simply follow the accepted beliefs and do as they are told, how can we know if the system is good if the people inside of it do not question what it is about? This is a complicated world with a wealth of images and ideas to evaluate on a daily basis that are followed and participated in with the slightest thought. The majority of the population follows our leaders not because of their inner conviction, but because it is what everyone else does or says. After twelve years of schooling, I entered college with weak opinions and indifferent views. People are less complete because they do not think their actions through, only the most popular or persuasive win out and the rest follow. America would be different if everyone knew how to ask the refined question, if everyone knew what they stood for and what they truly wanted. I believe that this needs to happen. To lead a life that will end in satisfaction, people need to be their own arbiters, and this can only be attained by taking our attention that is focused outward and turning it around, so that we can make qualified judgments of who we truly are and know what we truly believe.
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