Why I Believe

Madison - Beaverton, Oregon
Entered on December 5, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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There isn’t a whole lot in this world more important to me than my beliefs. They’re part of what makes each person an individual. Beliefs can bring people together for peace, and they can cause wars. People’s beliefs are a big part of who they are.

My fifth-grade year was in a tiny little conservative town of about twelve thousand people. Before that year, I never gave much thought to what I really believed, or why I believed that way. I knew I was for this, or against that, but I never stopped to think about the significance of how strongly I believed in something.

This all changed one Monday in school, when we rose to say the Pledge of Allegiance. It doesn’t really matter why I didn’t stand up that day, only that doing so would go against something I believed in. I was tired of ignoring my own beliefs to conform and please others.

My teacher sent me to the principal’s office, where I was informed that I would either stand quietly during the Pledge, or be suspended until I agreed to do so. I had a choice to make: I could either submit, and do what he wanted me to, or fight for what I thought was right. That day, I called a lawyer, who reminded my school that forcing me to stand was against my rights.

This might seem like a small thing now, but as a ten-year-old, it seemed almost impossible. Fighting for what I believe in, however, made me realize how important that belief was to me.

I wasn’t able to realize how important that belief was to me until someone forced me to question it. And I believe no one can understand how strongly he or she believes in something until that belief is challenged, and they are forced to question it.

Since then, I’ve learned to really question why I believe in something. I’m also a lot more willing to listen to other people’s beliefs, even if I don’t share their opinion on the subject.

I can’t help but respect people who fight fir their beliefs, because it’s a hard thing to do. I think it’s also a very important thing to fight for what you believe in, no matter what it is, because being able to question and fight for your belief makes your faith in it that much stronger.