This I Believe

Levi - Monument, Colorado
Entered on December 11, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Levi Schmeiler

This I believe

No person that has ever lived a full and healthy life has gone through it without making a few mistakes, whether relatively small, or life-altering. The word “mistake” has a negative connotation, but mistakes can be turned into a helpful experience, not only for the person who made it, but for mankind in general. I believe that the most important thing about the mistakes that people make is not what they are, who made them, or how big they are, but how the people who recognize the mistake treat it in the future, and whether they ignore the mistake, or use it to incite change in their own lives and the lives of others.

Individuals, institutions, groups of people, and governments all make mistakes. By now, I think most Americans would agree that several policies in the past from our own government can be classified as “mistakes”, slavery being one of the first that comes to mind. While I believe it is important to examine how negatively this policy may have impacted the slaves, and what an ignominious mark it may be on our history, I believe it is in the best interest of everyone to remember that past, while actively looking forward. If we are able to understand the mistakes we’ve made, and what specifically about the mistake it was that hurt others or led to negative outcomes, we can target the area and work on it to change it. This means it is important to remember slavery and its negative aspects, and use our understanding of them to change the world today to ensure the mistake makes a difference in today’s world. In the case of slavery, we need to look at the mindset of the people who enslaved millions, and analyze what it was that led to the prejudiced feeling. We can preach open-mindedness and compassion for everyone, regardless of color or socio-economic status. It is also important to reach for a middle ground between two mistakes; teaching equality rather than tipping the scales from one end to the other, which is just a more complicated way of repeating the mistake. The moment we push blacks up by stepping on another group, we’ve created the same problem with nothing but another color attached. Instead, we need to show that everyone is equal at birth, regardless of sex, color, religion, disabilities, or how they look. Progress has been made in the case of slavery, but it is still important to continue to correct the mistakes of our past. Never stop preaching equality for all, or the scales may start to drift off again as we forget our mistakes. Help blacks (and all other groups) reach the same general social and economic status as whites by giving them the same opportunities and freedoms, with no prejudice attached, one day hoping for an equal society that doesn’t reflect our past, in which we threw off the balance so violently.

Often, people don’t pay attention to mistakes, and let them happen again and again, which is a waste of a perfectly good mistake. If people are willing to make errors, but not learn anything from them, then evolution within society cannot occur. People will be doomed to an endless cycle of un-needed pain and hardship. The moment we try to push away the negative marks on our personal or societal history is the moment we stop remembering how bad these events were, and is the moment we may passively, and perhaps even subconsciously, begin turning back towards the mistake and its consequences.