This I Believe

Elizabeth - Princeton, New Jersey
Entered on September 19, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in the power of my voice. But, I also believe in consciously deciding when to use it.

As a four year old, I entered kindergarten with a smiling face and all of my favorite books falling out of my backpack. I read with my four-inch square glasses lying on the bridge of my consistently runny nose. My classmates would comment on my use of excessive tissues, or my constant drip. One girl in particular started commenting constantly regarding these “boogeys.” I never knew what to say to her or to any of my classmates’ mean comments. I would simply walk away. I wondered, from that moment on, what the right way was to use my voice.

In high school I came out of my shell. I learned not only how to stand up for myself, but how to use language as a powerful and positive force. Senior year, I was the president of my school’s student-run debate and current events club. Since joining the organization my sophomore year, I have realized how people can use their voices for good, for communication, or for sharing personal beliefs. I would speak in front of 100 of my peers, whether it was announcing information about our seasonal conventions, or talking about serious issues of today, such as the legalization of gay marriage or how globalization is affecting individual cultures. As a group, we expressed our opinions in the local newspaper, broadcasting our opinions about online technology and privacy issues. Intelligent conversation and arguments allow for people to bond and share something powerful. We used our voices in one of the most important ways possible, as a tool of communication.

There are so many people in the world who would be penalized for using similar privileges, or for simply speaking out. I hope to use the power of my voice to revolutionize policy for my country and to make the United States a better place to live. I am allowed to disagree with my government, a newspaper, or even my neighbor or a classmate. Negative language is all over, but there are ways to respond to it, or ignore it when appropriate. I learned that violent words are never a solution to a problem. Still, some people are belligerent in their words and actions, but they do not achieve their goals and dreams. I don’t shout, but I do let people know how I feel. By using my voice as a tool, instead of a weapon, I hope to execute change.