Not An Act of Faith This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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In 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella issued an edict that expelled all the Jews from Spain. They were to leave without their money or their possessions. Many Jews who had found success and wealth in Spain didn’t find this too appealing, so they tried to get around the edict. To do this, they became Jews in secret- pretending to convert to Christianity, but conducting Jewish ceremonies in their basement at night. These secret Jews were dubbed ‘marranos’ by the Spanish- ‘swine’. If they were discovered, they were taken, tortured horribly until they admitted they were Jews, forced into rags, then burned at the stake in front of a cheering crowd. This whole ceremony was called, by the Spanish who conducted it, an ‘auto de fe’, or act of faith.

I sat stunned, looking up from the book. An act of faith? What were these insane 15th-century Spanish people thinking? It was an act of faith to burn people for their religion?

But after learning about some of the crazy rituals that had been completely normal in those times, I realized that that was just the way people thought back then. The 15th century was full of barbarians and murderers who were thought of as the most prominent members of society. Thank G-d things have changed these days, I thought, closing my history book.

Well, I certainly got a rude awakening. As teenagers, we probably have a vague idea about ‘that war in the Middle East’ and ‘those terrorist attacks in Afghanistan or wherever’. You don’t know half of it. From the age of five or six, when toddlers in America are playing with wooden blocks and watching Sesame Street, Palestinian children are given guns and watch creepy cartoons. What kind of cartoons are creepy cartoons, you ask? The kind where they tell you, in the same voice we are told to eat our vegetables and do our homework with, to go and commit suicide and take as many Jews or Americans as you can with you. To five year olds!

What kind of place is a creepy place? A place where it is perfectly normal to thrust women and children in front of you as walls to protect yourselves from bombs. A place where you can be killed for going to school. A place where murder and prejudice take the place of morals and kindness. Yet, similar to other countries’ reaction to Spain in 1492, we take the Atlantic Ocean barrier as an excuse to simply not care. If bombs were continually dropped on our homes and people claiming to have ‘faith’ continually tried to murder us, I somehow think we would care a little more.

Now, I know that the people who will bother to read this will likely gain nothing from this; as the people who will bother to read this far are likely intelligent enough to know this and caring enough to, well, care. But I am speaking of other teenagers! If I went up to a girl in the locker room who was busy doing her makeup and hair routine and told her all this, she would say, “Um, go away, weirdo.” And then perhaps commemorate the occasion on Twitter: “Some nerd tried to tell me about some weird stuff.” And then go straight back to cyber-stalking Justin Bieber.

It’s ridiculous how we sit here oozing out our brain cells, while teens halfway across the world are being routinely murdered for their religion, or routinely brainwashed TO murder others for their religion. And we don’t care. I just hope that once this generation grows up and disaster strikes here in America due to our own stupidity, perhaps we will put a bit more consideration into others. Because in a century or so, people will read their history books with the same disgust as we read about the Spanish Inquisition now. But they will not only be disgusted at the killers themselves; but at the idiots who could have done something about it but didn’t. This ignorance is not an act of faith.





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