up for your Beliefs
don't have to go with the flow!).
much all of us have had the experience of having a new kid come
into our class, well after the school year has started. The new
kid standing in front of the class, looking at you just as you were
looking at her, and then finally being given a seat in the class.
Most of the time, because she/he doesn't know any one in the class,
she ducks her head only and remains to herself. And it's very difficult
for her to befriend others in the class, since they already have
their cliques and their group of friends, and aren't usually very
receptive into allowing others in.
I was the "new kid" and since my family moved like nomads,
I was unable to develop lasting friendships until recently. I find
it amazing the many different ways that we interact with others
and how we choose, more often than not, to follow the crowd and
to do what everyone else does. Rarely do we stand up and say, "No,
I'm going to do that because I think this is the right thing
to do." Instead, our need and desire for acceptance from others
gets in the way and encourages us to go along with what they are
when we do that? What happens when we sit by and listen to our
friends criticize another person for no reason and we don't say
anything about it? What happens when we do something that we know
we shouldn't do because our friends convinced us that it was okay?
I believe that
every action we take has it's consequence: some of those consequences
are harsher than others, but they are still there and I believe
that the consequence of following the crowd, instead of standing
up for our own beliefs, is having to live with guilt. I remember
once, a friend of mine and I were in the school gym, interviewing
students for the school newspaper and there was this boy who had
Down Syndrome. He had a basketball and was shooting some hoops and
then, from out of nowhere, this group came up to him and took the
basketball out of his hand. They bounced it and teased him with
it, and then made him go and get the ball when it bounced out of
their reach. My friend that I was with became so angry and he stopped
the teasing and gave the boy the ball back.
I had never
been so proud of anyone in my entire life as I was of my friend,
because he refused, always, to allow others to control his own thoughts.
I was very proud of him, but shouldn't the actions that he took
be the norm? Shouldn't I, instead of having been proud of him for
that, have been disappointed if he had chosen not to stop it?
We were each
created uniquely: none of us are the same and, in my opinion,
it diminishes our identity, our specialness, when we follow the
crowd instead of standing up for ourselves and our beliefs. When
we follow the others, what we're really doing is saying that our
beliefs and our thoughts aren't as important or as right as everyone
else's: that's not true! We only follow the people we do not because
we necessarily agree with the actions but because we admire them
for being able to take charge and to say, "This is what I'm
going to do. Who's going to do it with me?" But you know what?
If we said the same thing, then others would admire us for doing
that and we could have more people choosing to do things that are
right and good, instead of actions that only harm ourselves and
There was once
a philosopher who believed that, in order to find the truth of things,
he had to take apart everything he believed in and see what was
left, so he did. He started examining why he believed in his religion,
in life itself and do you know what he was left with? After he had
taken apart all of the beliefs that most of us take for granted,
he was left with the one sure fact that he existed and then, from
that, he started thinking about everything before he would
allow himself to believe it. There comes a point in each of our
lives, I believe, when we have to say, "But why do I believe
in doing this? Why do I believe in telling the truth? Why do I believe
in doing the things I do?" and make sure that our beliefs are
our beliefs and not someone else's.
we are taught things and because those things are taught to
us, we never question them: we merely believe them. When I was younger,
and just learning about God and religion, I was being taught those
things but you know what? It's not because I was taught that God
exists that I know He does. I know He exists because I have experienced
things in my life that simply would not have happened without Him
and, after thinking about those experiences and coming to my
own realization that He does exist, my belief is all the
more powerful and meaningful to me because it is mine.
When we get
in trouble and are asked why we did something, I think we'd all
have to agree that most of the time, we answer, "I don't know,"
or "He did it so I thought it was okay," but it is those
who are able to defend and explain their actions that are the most
respected by the people in this world. The ones that can say, "I
told the truth because lying only hurts me in the end" are
the ones I would like to think we all model.
We are not
robots. We all have minds of our own and we should be proud
of ourselves for using those minds to come up with our own ideas.
it has been the ones who went against the crowd that have made the
most lasting of impacts on society: Princess Diana, Rosa Parks,
Mother Teresa and, above them all, Jesus Christ. So, whenever doubt
enters our thoughts and we're unsure if following our own beliefs
is the right thing to do, remember those names and know that when
you invite the new kid in school to sit at your lunch table, or
to play on your team, you are following in the worlds heroes' footsteps.