This I Believe

James - Lakebay, Washington
Entered on October 31, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

I believe being different is a good thing. Not just different in the sense of “I’m a girl, that person over there is a boy”, but different in the sense of “I have long hair dyed 5 different colors, and they shaved off half the hair on their head”.

I don’t know when I decided to grow my hair out. As far as I can tell, it just grew to a certain point and I didn’t bother to get it cut. Next thing I knew, it was down to my neck.

As a guy, I know that guys usually have short hair and girls usually have short hair. However, it seems that most people (or at least most people that I know) feel that guys have to have short hair, and girls should always wear their hair long. When I started growing my hair out, some friends said I looked like a girl and that I should cut it.

But why should I cut my hair because someone else doesn’t like it? It’s not their hair. Whenever I see someone with a mullet, I don’t go, “Ewww, gross! A mullet!” I don’t say anything, because it’s not my hair.

And it doesn’t end with hair. Some people have this ‘idea’ of how people should act, and they feel that everybody should act a certain way. Well, I feel that people should be able to act as they wish, without having someone insult them or think less of them for being different.

In fact, doing things differently can be a great thing. I remember hearing a recording a Jimmy Hendrix playing the national anthem on his guitar. Was it offensive to my ears? Occasionally. But the fact was, was that he was playing the national anthem completely differently from how it was normally played at the time. If he had tried that years before Woodstock, people would probably have burned his records–all because he did something different from everyone else. In fact, that did happen to someone–they played the national anthem on a guitar, and people booed him, and burned his records.

Doing something different usually leads to something good. Take, for example, the code of Hammurabi. Before his time, nobody wrote down the law. Then, Hammurabi came along and did something different: he wrote down the law. Makes sense to us, but back then, I’m guessing, it was a pretty big deal.

MLK was someone who understood that difference–any difference–shouldn’t affect people’s judgements or their beliefs. A person’s difference should be a good thing, not an excuse to insult them. This I believe.