Throughout this century, each decade has produced at least one change in society that breaks barriers between people. The present decade has brought to the surface more divisions including the one between heterosexuals and homosexuals. People I know have said that they were homosexuals, however they were not ridiculed as they would have been up to the late 1980's. Of course there are still many people who oppose this lifestyle, but many others have come a long way toward accepting it in the last ten years. Attitudes bare changing, and not just toward homosexuals. Some people are learning to accept people of different religions and races.
On a personal level, I have seen differences in the attitudes within my own family. My grandparents clearly illustrate these changes. My maternal grandparents grew up during a time when people were taught that Caucasians and African-Americans were not equal. Since then, they have become open to differences. However, my paternal grandmother is an example of one who has not learned to change. She remains very prejudiced against African-Americans and people of the Jewish faith. A few summers ago when I was visiting her, we were watching a beauty pageant on television. A young African-American won after she articulately answered her interview question. My grandmother immediately said, "They [the pageant committee] must be required to have a black win every few years. She is not nearly as good as the other girls." The "other girls" were all white. I know others share my grandmother's opinions, but I do not fear that their attitudes will become dominate. Today's youth show hope in their openness to diversity.
My generation is growing up in a time when many of these barriers have been, or are being, broken. I am taught to be open to differences and treat all people as equals. Even though my church is open to differences, we still have diversity workshops. I attended a high school fellowship retreat to participate in a series of workshops on human diversity and our attitudes toward it. Attending a Catholic high school, one would think that religious division would be reinforced. But I have found the opposite to be true. There are students from many religions in my school, including Congregationalism which I practice. The fact that I am not Catholic was never considered in my new friendships. My religion is just one aspect of my life that makes me a unique person. The students are open to, if not eager to learn about, the different religions that people practice. Our mandatory religion class this year is "Religions of the World" where we discuss many beliefs, including the fact that people have a right to believe in no god or superior force.
I have a positive outlook on the future. People have begun to realize that the differences between humans are to be marveled at, not used to divide the human race. These changes in attitude hold great hope for a future in which humans are united in the belief that we all belong to one category: human beings. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.