Neil - Auburn, Washington
Entered on November 10, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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As long as I can remember, my parents have always told me not to judge people by their appearance, the way they sound, or the way they dress. They told me to judge people by their personality, and that’s how I judge people to this day. Yes, I know that some people, naturally, look dangerous, like a guy with an eye twitch, camo clothes, mean look, or a voice that intimidates others. With that, our brains will be defensive to protect us from that kind of person, but to judge a person who doesn’t look dangerous or doesn’t look like a killer type person is a poor choice. Unfortunately, not everybody judges people like I was taught. When I entered high school a whole new world was revealed to me. I wasn’t in a world that consisted of my neighborhood and my middle school community, but the whole city of Auburn and other cities when I needed to go to them. That meant I would see more people, some who are nice and some that aren’t so nice.

One day my friends and I were at the mall just shopping around when we went into a store. I realized that we were being followed by an elderly looking man with hair spots turning a little gray, fairly thick glasses, and wrinkles forming on his neck. When I asked if there was a problem he looked at me with surprise and suspicion. I asked him why he was staring at me and he said “Well can you blame me?” “Look at you.” When my friends heard that, they dropped what they were doing and left just giving the man a cold stare. You could tell that they had lost all respect for the man. Before I left I told the manager about what he had said and he said it was unacceptable. My friends waited outside the store while I was buying the game I had been looking for. We heard the manager yelling at the worker in the back room.

After we left I couldn’t help but smile. This smile was not a smile of satisfaction in knowing that the clerk was now in trouble. It was a smile of affirmation that there were people out there making a difference in this world such as the manager at the store, and that I played a small role in creating a Martin Luther King Jr. moment. It was a small moment but it was a moment that moved the world in the direction of a better place for everybody. It is these little moments multiplied many times over that eventually lead to the success of Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama. These moments realize Martin Luther King Jr.’s prophecy, as quoted by Barack Obama that “The arc of the moral universe…bends towards justice.”

This I believe, that it is the decision made by average people making small differences in quiet ways everyday of their lives that ultimately promotes justice for all. Burning buildings and shouting with arms raised cannot help to build a better world. Fighting in the streets for what you believe in cannot help to build a better world. Yelling at each other for a reason even if you think it’s justified cannot help build a better world. Making war to settle scores for your country’s past pains and wounds cannot help build a better world. It takes the simple quiet act of refusing to be treated unjustly and disrespectfully.