Acceptance in America

Erin - Atkinson, New Hampshire
Entered on January 25, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: equality
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This I Believe

Acceptance in America

I believe that America is not as free as most people tend to think. We pride ourselves on accepting everyone, but how can we say that? Just recently, the inauguration of President Obama had an extremely Christian prayer. How can a preacher get away with incorporating such a small amount of American’s religious beliefs knowing that he is representing all Americans and the “home of the free” to the rest of the world? Many times, adults just stand around let the “minority” people be constantly picked on. If this was really as accepting a country as we say we are, then wouldn’t the older generation try to teach us how to accept everyone despite their race, religion, who they love, or the hundreds of other reasons people are not accepted? Leading by example would encourage more people to change than just to talk about it and do something else.

Acceptance is more than giving everyone equal rights; it is about having the country as a whole work together regardless of its differences. In my English class, we are reading To Kill A Mockingbird, and my class seems relieved that Americans are not as discriminating as we were then. However, when I read this book, I can only see the similarities in the treatment of African Americans at that time to the continued attitudes and treatment of African Americans and other minority groups today. Sure, we may not be as violent most of the time, but conversations about people who are of colored skin, gay or of other religions now resemble this book so much it starts to scare me. How long will it take for this attitude to change? When it does, will we be moving forward to a more accepting country, or just moving farther and farther away from what we claim our country stands for?

No one likes to buy things that are falsely advertised, but we have falsely advertised ourselves as a nation. Just because the country gives everyone the same laws and “discourages” stereotypes does not mean that they can tell the world, “Hey! Look! We accept everyone!”. I do not think that any country should be able to make such an important statement about acceptance to the rest of the world until they are able to prove that everyone is equally treated in their country. That needs to mean that the people in America, not the government, make sure everyone is treated fairly and do their best not to discriminate themselves. This feeling of acceptance should come from inside each American, not because it is the “right thing to do”, but because everyone is truly seen the same and treated that way.

Although the American government has taken so many steps to try to make sure that everyone has the same equality status as everyone else, they alone can not resolve the problem. There are people who just will not accept others and let go of their stereotypes. If more people were open to being more understanding and less discriminating, that would be a step in the right direction. I believe that the future can go two ways. We can chose to continue “doing the right thing” but not changing our inner beliefs and end up living somewhere right out of To Kill A Mocking Bird, or we can truly become a more accepting nation where all people feel equal and all people are valued for their differences. This is what I believe.