This I Believe

Kaitlyn - Valdese, North Carolina
Entered on March 3, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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We would like to think that today’s modern society has grown above prejudice, especially in a country based on freedom and the equality of all mankind. At a fleeting glance America is the perfect place, where justice and egalitarianism reign. However, a closer examination of reality reveals a society still struggling with discrimination based on everything from ethnicity, religion, and belief systems, to gender and even political affiliation. In a perfect world, people would be judged by the content of their character, and nothing else.

Religious discrimination stands responsible for one of the single most devastating events in the twentieth century and possibly in the history of our world. During the Second World War, the systematic killing of millions upon millions of people took place under the command of one man. These people were not executed because they posed a danger to society or because they had committed any sort of crime, but because they were Jewish. Who knows what great minds were sacrificed in the Holocaust; the cure for cancer may have very well have vanished within the extermination camps commissioned by a one Adolf Hitler. Such blind hatred is a terribly dangerous thing, especially from a position of power. Discrimination can bring absolutely no good to our world, only destruction and the backward progression of civilization.

Although my parents reared me with a firm foundation of beliefs, it was instilled in me to be accepting and understanding of others, regardless of how they look or worship or of their opinions. Even in the deep South where slavery used to be a means of survival and racism remains extremely prevalent, I was always taught that the color of someone’s skin is absolutely no indication of their capabilities or potential. One of my closest friends is one such person who is frequently misjudged, and who knows firsthand the kind of damage that racial discrimination can inflict not only on society but on an individual. In passing the most common initial reaction to my friend is, “Oh, another thug off the streets who’s headed nowhere.” If they never actually spoke to him, just walked by with only his appearance from which to form their conclusions, they would miss out the fact that he is a talented musician, a stellar football player, and an upstanding citizen who is head of two student service organizations on his college campus; not to mention, he’s taking eighteen hours of coursework this semester. They would never know that he graduated high school in the top ten percent of his class, and is now majoring in business so he can start his own record label. He has made his own way in this world, working hard for everything he has achieved, and because of it is has strength of character and an incredible sense of determination. He has a sense of humor that could cheer anyone out of a bad day, and most importantly he has goals and dreams for his life. In passing one might say “Oh, he’s headed nowhere fast,” but I say he’s going places.

Despite the fact that prejudice still exists, I believe that a world in which opportunity exists for everyone is possible. Sure, we may all be of a different color, religion, culture, background, belief, or whatever else you can conjure out of your head; but no matter our differences, everyone bleeds red and everyone cries tears. It is my sincerest hope that one day genocide will not exist, that different religions will coexist peacefully, that true lovers will not be kept apart or looked down upon by the families from which they were born, that racial slurs will wane with generations past, that no person will be treated unjustly, and that character alone will define a person.

I believe in a perfect world.