This I Believe

Rachel - 38305, Tennessee
Entered on February 28, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” My father’s melodious voice dwelt contemplatively upon the eloquent words penned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while in a Birmingham jail in April, 1963. I closed my eyes and began to ponder the meaning of Dr. King’s veritable words and the influence of his many thought-provoking declarations upon our great nation. This man had a dream, not a mere fantasy, but an acute aspiration, a fervent desire to see the United States of America become truly welded together. He wished for the colossal differences of race and color, then dividing this vast body, to be utterly and unequivocally eliminated and forever destroyed. He unreservedly passed on his vision for a homogenous nation to people of all manners of walk and ways of life.

As for me, a 16-year old Caucasian female, I have just begun to grasp the immense importance of Dr. King’s words. In the 1960s, newspapers reported the color war between whites and blacks. Now our prejudices and injustices have mushroomed into a giant hotbed of distrust, animosity, and bitterness between the plethora of different ethnicities residing in this “melting pot”. Thankfully, racial discrimination and tensions today are less frequently expressed in riots and violent demonstrations. The surreptitious framework of racial conflict is now prevalent in more subtle ways. People are reluctant to trust those of different color and instead stereotype those different from their own. What will be the fate of our nation? Will creeping sensations of jealousy, doubts, distrust, paranoia, and rage devour us?. Just because someone wears Islamic garb does not mean they are going to hijack your plane. Not all wearing raiment of bling and sagging pants are going to beat you to a pulp. Not all guys sporting the preppy outfits and driving the nice cars patronize and snub others. Clearly, how a person appears does not necessarily define their character.

People are different. Their differences identify them; they define their culture, their way of life, their mark of uniqueness. Don’t try and ramrod everyone to dress, act, or live your lifestyle. Shake off the shackles that bind mankind from unifying. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So what if his epidermis is a darker pigment than yours? I believe that if I overlook the variances in my fellow human beings and offer a kind word, look, smile, or helping hand, I can help change the course of history for the good of mankind. We can do this together and learn, as a nation, to let the wind sweep away the injustices endured by many suffering and oppressed people. We can begin a fresh life encompassing “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As did Dr. King, we must proclaim loudly, enthusiastically, and adamantly “Let freedom ring!” so that our country will one day be “free at last” from the moral and racial injustices currently plaguing our beloved “land of the free.”