If You Want Change, Make It

Paulina - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 17, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” These words, spoken by Gandhi, are an inspiration to me on a daily basis. I believe in individualism. We’re not worth anything if there are a hundred others just like us. Our own individual thought defines who we are. By forming my own opinion and not basing it on the thoughts of others, I have stumbled onto hidden treasure.

I am a vegetarian. The choice was influenced by my realization of where “meat” comes from. It’s not one of those things that cross a person’s mind, even as they are shopping for groceries. At least, for me it wasn’t. All it took to shake up my young teenage brain was a PETA DVD handed out at a Nine Inch Nails concert. A young man wearing a pleasant grin on his face approached me and my friend as we entered the arena. “Would you be interested in our DVD?” he asked. Without much interest we answered, “Well… what is it about?” As I watched him explain to us what his mission, his purpose for being there, I felt admiration for the guy. He was out here in the ninety-five degree weather, in mid-June, promoting animal rights. So were a couple thousand other people, but they came for the show. I came back to him after the concert to talk some more. “So you’ll watch it?” he said, with hope of gaining another recruit. “I will.” I answered with a smile. Popping the movie in, I wasn’t expecting anything life-changing. Images of animal torture and slaughter flashed on the screen for about an hour. It ended. Silence. I stared at the TV in ignorant disbelief.

The next morning at the hotel breakfast, I sat transfixed, mulling over the information I had heard the night before. How had I never thought about of where meat comes from? During the drive home, I had an internal battle with myself. “How can people who are aware of this continue to live with themselves?” Over the course of that day, it dawned on me that even if others don’t mind eating inhumanly killed animals, I do. Overnight, I became a vegetarian. I didn’t know any vegetarians; I wasn’t sure I could stay one myself. My parents were skeptical of my newfound ideas. It was my belief in stopping animal abuse that kept me going. Since then I’ve questioned everything else that has come my way. And two years later, here I am, still following my beliefs, still a vegetarian.

Individualism isn’t defined by what you eat or what you wear, but by the choices that you make in life as an individual. Choices that you believe are right. Don’t be dictated by the media or your friends. When you think for yourself, you become the person you want to be.