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Appreciate Your Activist This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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“I’d kill for a double cheeseburger and some fries right now, wouldn’t you?” she asked me. Everyone in my biology class was talking about food. A couple of guys were debating which restaurant served the best ribs. Others discussed how chocolate chip cookies and milk would hit the spot. It was always like this in seventh period. Everyone was hungry, anticipating the end of the day and their next meal. That mindset used to include me too. But it all ended that day when I said, “No, I wouldn’t.”

Everyone turned to look at me, like I’d uttered the most creative curse aimed at the highest god. I watched as their eyes sought to locate the evil person who had muttered those words. I held my breath as they all found me – I’d been caught.

This is what it’s like to be a vegetarian. Even if you are the quietest one in the world, you will be found out and persecuted. It does not matter that you don’t preach your beliefs to the world. They’ll still ask you if you eat animal crackers and explain that plants are living too. And it most certainly does not matter if you’ve memorized every statistic in the world and have a full-blown bibliography ready to fire on command. It doesn’t matter that you’ve spent hours researching exactly why you believe you should be a vegetarian. What matters to them is that you are different.
Every teenage activist fighting for some belief opposed by the majority has experienced the high you get when you know you’ve made your point clear – the sensation that tingles your mind and makes your smile grow. It’s enough to make your day, even your week. It’s wonderful.

But the high of activism is nothing compared to the low, low feeling you so often receive in response. It’s the feeling that all you’ve been doing is for nothing. It makes your heart palpitate, the acid climb into your throat, and the blush rise on your face. But mostly, it just gives you the sudden urge to hit someone over the head with a shovel.

Because after all those hours you spent researching your cause and all the sacrifices you’ve made for what you believe in (and for me, it’s the double cheeseburgers and juicy steaks I’ve given up), having someone cover his ears and exclaim you’re an imbecile is just infuriating. It makes your blood boil at such a high temperature that even the sun is jealous of your heat. You could probably give off your own ultraviolet rays and burn up any who dare come within a 40-mile radius of you.

Maybe the next time you see that girl who plasters the insides of desks with promotional stickers or that guy whose whole wardrobe consists of cause-related T-shirts, you won’t smirk or poke fun. At least, that’s my hope and wish. Because you don’t have to agree with someone to appreciate the time they’ve dedicated to their cause. And after all, we don’t need to have someone agree with us to feel appreciated.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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doverdrama said...
Jul. 17, 2009 at 6:19 pm
i admire you for being strong, and not conforming to other people's standards. bravo!
 
wfmp07mifh said...
Aug. 22, 2008 at 1:49 am
I question vegetarians too. Sure it makes me sick when I think about eat something that used to be alive. And I'm not promoting the way these animals are killed by any means. But really, if we didn't use these animals for food, they would be over populated and the world would be even worse off. We don't even know if other animals think, do we? That's why human consumption is illegal, right? These creature don't tell us not to eat them, so we eat them. And enjoy it. Most of us, anyway. And it's n... (more »)
 
faceless said...
Aug. 6, 2008 at 10:28 pm
good point. although i think your vegetarianism is hardly comparable to "that girl who plasters the insides of desks with promotional stickers or that guy whose whole wardrobe consists of cause-related T-shirts" because changing lifestyle to advance a cause is a lot more impressive than empty rhetoric..
bumper-stickers don't say animals
 
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