Growing up in a small community in Ohio, I wasn’t introduced to the diverse cultures of the world until I became a teenager. As some would believe, however, I was not exposed to the stereotypical behaviors’ associated with a sheltered community and close minded people. My grandmother, whom I believed knew all the answers to life’s mysteries, taught me to keep my mind open to the world. It was her and her loving nature that engrained in me my love for life, and consideration for the feelings and beliefs of others. She has shown me the true meaning of loving and respecting my neighbor. It wasn’t until later in my life that I was exposed to the harsh reality of the world in which we live.
Why do we judge each other based on the physical and personal attributes presented to us? During our lifetime, we will encounter the reality of discrimination. Some people are discriminated against because of their race, their religion, or their disabilities. Others are discriminated against because of their “social status” or because they are of a different nationality. The depths of discrimination lie so much deeper than even hate can see. I have been discriminated against and I have also discriminated. I have been discriminated against because it was not appropriate for me to love the people that I have loved because of the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or their social upbringing. I have been told that the obstacles in my path were too great, and that I was too weak to overcome them. Everyone around me thought that I would crumble and give in to defeat. Yet here I stand. I feel sorry for the people who didn’t have faith in me because they can not live their lives in love, but I love them. Without their ridicule and judgments I could not have transformed into this wonderful being that I have become. I have learned from their cruelty to laugh and cry, forgive and be forgiven, to love and be loved. I am hates’ prodigy.
I have carried the lessons that my grandmother taught and kept them close to my heart. Now that I am no longer a child, I am able to see the imperfections of my grandmother, whom I love so dearly. With this knowledge, she has again taught me yet another lesson in life. She has shown me that no one is perfect, and it is these imperfections that distinguish the differences among us. I have learned to laugh at my own faults because they define who I am. It is these differences that create change. It is these differences that give us hope. These differences are why we love one another. I will embrace the diversity that God has placed into my life with his unconditional love. I believe that we can change hate into appreciation for one another and appreciation into love. I believe that we can love each other, you and me.