BEACON

I Believe

Kaela Wilkinson

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Ironically, change is constant. The world around us is constantly evolving, maturing, progressing- in some instances shrinking, withering, or dying- but changing all the same. So why does humanity, in so many ways, remain stagnant? Yes, people do grow, literally and figuratively, but as a society we seem to be stuck. Some of our most troublesome flaws have persisted, unchanging and pernicious.

Ironically, humanity’s greatest weaknesses are some of the strongest elements in the world. They have outlived our most powerful empires and civilizations, survived wars and genocides, and endured the seemingly inescapable effects of generational detachment. Even the best traditions are lost over time, so how has hate remained alive and well? Maybe because it assumes so many different forms, so many that some of us cannot recognize it. Racism disguised as “free speech.” Sexism masked by tradition. Xenophobia in the form of a wall built on a border. All are hate, prejudice, and fear disguised and justified by “morals,” “traditions,” and “birth rights.”

Maybe hate is truly just immune to the effects of aging and, unlike the rest of us, hate can’t die. If this is the case then there is no hope. The evils that we create will continue to run rampant, and who could stop them? If we could see the future, it’d look everything and nothing like today. On one hand, buildings may be taller, cities more populated, and technology more advanced. Yet, at second glance oppression and inequality will still loom over us.

But what if there is an alternate future, one in which oppression is a distant memory or maybe even a swear word. How could we achieve this?

The first step towards this utopia is acknowledgement of responsibility. The privileged and complacent must transform into allies. There will be no official draft or call to battle, but we must instill within ourselves the idea that any attack against humanity, is an attack against us all.

Step two is reparations. While the common goal is to prevent the perpetuation of hate, to save the child who will face discrimination in his adulthood, we cannot leave those who have already been wronged in the past. They deserve justice, too.

Which brings me to the most important step: rehumanization. It has been ingrained in many of us that we belong to a group which is superior. By consciously or unconsciously making these classifications, we are dehumanizing those outside of our own group- telling ourselves that they are the “wrong” kinds of people. This ideology acts as the very foundation of hate. Rehumanization is the process of abandoning this mindset and accepting the reality that we are all humans, that no hate is justified, and that we all deserve the same respect that we expect.

I believe that in today’s world, pessimism and realism are deeply intertwined. Our enemies seem unassailable and every step forward is countered with two leaps back. But moreso, I believe that every storm is temporary. I believe that from this point forward, each generation will grow more and more removed from the tight reins of hate. I believe that we will learn to acknowledge the similarities we share and, more importantly, learn to respect our differences.

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The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.
I Believe