This I Believe

Carrie - Phoeniz, Arizona
Entered on November 23, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: equality

People in history have worked hard to form my belief. There are significant events in history that we must remember and live by. If we don’t change our ways, history is bound to repeat itself. We must learn from those who have come before us. For example, in the Declaration of Independence the founding fathers stated “All men are created equal”. Furthermore, Martin Luther King Jr. said “We must hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal”. To me these quotes mean that when you walk into a room, you should acknowledge everyone and not only the people you think are important. I believe that everyone is equal and should be treated equally.

I don’t have one specific moment that led me to believe this, my whole childhood formed this belief. I was born and raised in Southern California, where there is cultural diversity everywhere. In school I met and made friends with children of different genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, and social status. I accepted everyone for who they were. I chose friends based on their personalities and nothing else mattered to me. It didn’t matter that they were different because we were all different. In school, teachers taught us about different cultures and beliefs. We were taught that that we should not only treat everyone equally, but also treat people how we would like to be treated. I was always surrounded by different cultures and I never thought twice about it. It was my way of life and what I had always known.

When I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona at the end of my junior year of high school, I began to realize that not everyone shared the same belief. I realized that there was much less diversity in Arizona. So, before I started at a new school, I went on the school website to find out information about what it would be like. I was surprised to find ethnic statistics on the school website. I was not only surprised that the school was 90% white, but I was also surprised that they even listed these statistics. After all, I didn’t understand why the ethnicity of the students mattered. When I started school, I noticed that the majority of groups of friends were divided. And it didn’t seem to be just the students who were acting this way. Even the teachers seemed to be the same, when they used inappropriate words in class. In their defense, they were reading out of the textbook. However, in California we just didn’t say those things, regardless of the text books.

At first, I was frustrated by what I saw. I was shocked that the teachers were acting that way; I expected them to be role models. As a result, I lost respect for some of my teachers. It seemed that these people couldn’t grasp a concept that I had known my entire life. In California, we didn’t divide our friends based on race or list ethnic statistics on the school website. I couldn’t understand their point of view. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone was prejudice in Scottsdale nor that no one in California is, but in my new school they didn’t accept cultural diversity like most students did in my preceding schools. For the most part, Arizona was not as accepting or inviting of different cultures.

But, then I realized that this is what these students were taught since they were children and instead of frustration, I felt sorry for them. I began to wonder how they could know anything else. I began to wonder what I would have been like if I was raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. This made me very appreciative that I was able to grow up in Southern California. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity that was given to me by my parents to be raised in such a diverse community. I may not live in California now, but I will use what I have learned to try and help others who are not as lucky as I am. I will never forget the important lessons that I learned in California because I was able to experience in my childhood, diversity like what Scottsdale students probably would never experience in a lifetime.

I believe that things have changed tremendously and must continue to change. I believe that children should be taught to accept diversity. I believe that we should give everyone the same amount of respect, regardless of their age, gender, race, or anything else. I believe in coming together through our differences. I believe that our uniqueness should be embraced, not rejected. I believe that who people are on the inside is so much more important than what they are on the outside. I believe that together we can change the world and achieve greatness. I believe that we can make our beliefs and dreams our reality.