Knowing the Unknown

Melinda - Manchester, Missouri
Entered on April 30, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that the world is filled with dangerous hatred. I am Jewish, and although this fact is not one that sounds unusual, being Jewish has had a profound impact upon my life.

I will never forget one moment four years ago. I was in Algebra class when my friend pulled out a poster she made for her social studies class about different religions. I glanced from a distance, and felt sudden warmth when I saw that Judaism was represented on that small poster board. My warmth, however, froze over as I heard another friend of mine say, “Why do you have that on there? That is a disgrace to our religion!” I looked more closely, and knowing already what was coming, saw him pointing at the Star of David, the most obvious emblem of my religion.

I tried to hold in my feelings. I tried to brush off his remark, and I kept telling myself he was “stupid, immature, and didn’t know what he was saying.” It wasn’t that easy. The bell rang, and I could hold onto my anger and sadness no more. The tears poured from my eyes. My teacher hurried over, and through sobs, I explained what happened. Already late for my next class, I took some time to pull myself together in the girl’s bathroom with my best friend as she consoled me and wiped away my tears.

He was supposed to be my friend. I’ve known him since I was five, and we went to kindergarten together. We rode the bus home everyday, and I used to play at his house. My mom knew his mom. But at that moment, he did not think of our companionship. He did not think at all, for his mind was made up a long time ago. Jews are different. Jews are bad.

My friend, the nicest, most polite boy was an anti-Semite. This hatred he does not know he possesses will never leave him unless he is educated. I see him everyday, and while we are still friends, I do not know if he feels the same way. I cannot look at him without wondering.

I am left with great fear. That day in Algebra class I witnessed my friend dangerously and unknowingly overstep an internal boundary as he openly expressed his hatred for what I am. I believe the world should refrain from walking this tight rope of hatred and, instead, learn about the unknown. The unknown may be more familiar than you think.