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First Place Middle School: Isabel Martinez

April 10, 2018 GMT

Understanding Goes Beyond Tolerance

I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding. - Tennessee Williams

What do you notice about the attitudes around you as you listen and watch others? Some people notice only division, they are the ones we call “pessimists”. Others acknowledge unification and they choose to ignore any problems or division, we call them “optimists”. Then, there are “realists” who see both the separation and connection in society. In order for us to apply the virtue of acceptance, we must see both sides, good and bad. We must learn to go beyond tolerance and learn the virtue of acceptance and the joy of understanding.

When looking at the people around me, I often notice ignorance and foolishness in the division. Words and actions hurt. Why must we bring others down for our own survival? I’ve heard this is for survival of the fittest, but isn’t that logic used by cavemen and animals, when life was solely about survival? In order to survive and thrive we must go beyond tolerance, and find acceptance and understanding.

Whether you are a Muslim or of Christian belief, any belief for that matter...whether you are of color or white, straight or gay, girl or boy shouldn’t matter. The fact that you are black shouldn’t mean you are of ghetto, being of a gender difference shouldn’t mean you’re a disappointment, and being a girl shouldn’t mean you’re pathetic; however, this logic seems to be beyond our leaders and role models of today. As our political society shuns away from those who don’t fit impossible standards; many of us who have those perceived“imperfections” choose acceptance.

Choosing acceptance, means you look at the imperfections in society, and see a kaleidoscope of beauty. By choosing acceptance over ignorance you acknowledge the division and unification and, whilst you don’t accept the customs of difference, you accept that they’re different, which can mean the world to any one person.

Why should it though? Why is it that being allowed to be yourself is seen as gift...that wearing an emotional mask is a necessity when walking outside. When people hide their sexuality, gender, or even religion, just to walk outside, is when we know our ideals are wrong. Acceptance, then understanding shouldn’t not be special gifts, but in constants in our lives.

We are changing as a group. When comparing how our society is today to the past, we are more diverse and accepting than ever. So, let’s not take a step back, but continue moving forward in our fight against oppression and discrimination.

When looking at the world today, I see the mistakes of our past and the potential of our future, I see young people who believe and understand the differences in our society and celebrate those differences. I am glad that I have the opportunity to see the change and be part of a young movement where we are inclusive.

Isabel Martinez Holy Cross Grade 8 Jeanette Hopkins, mentor