This was a classroom assignment for Ariel. I thought it was very good and she agreed to let me put it on my web site.
Our countryís fundamental laws are based on the precept that all people are created equal. Every individual has the right to be treated fairly and with respect both in the eyes of the law and of the public the law protects. The word ďtolerateĒ means to recognize the opinions and the rights of others, so in essence to be an American means to be tolerant. However, this does not mean that all Americans must agree, for Freedom lies in your right to dissent, it means that as a citizen of the U.S. we have a responsibility to respect all points of view. This is how our democracy works and how it will continue to thrive. Throughout history humans have formed opinions of each other based on their differences in appearance and thought. It is time to set aside old contention and stride impartially into the twenty-first century.
When viewing a physically handicapped person or a mentally disabled person there are generally two reactions: pity and/or disgust. The fact is we are all bound by something we all have an incapacity or an insecurity, but this does not mean we are weak. For instance, Iím terrible at arithmetic but this does not stop me from doing things I enjoy and do well. We need to realize the merit in our peers, that within us all lies a seed of excellence. A person who utilizes a wheelchair to remain active is a courageous soul. Despite the fact that these citizens must go out of their way to access ramps, complex door-openers, and lifts they are regarded as obstacles in the flow of the rat race. It is also generally assumed that they are less than lucid, needless to say this is blatantly false. These outstanding members of todayís society deserve to be treated not only with tolerance but with equality. Physical disabilities also branch into hearing and sight impediments. People with hearing aids or glasses donít go unnoticed in society but receive less harassment than persons with mental impairments. Some irregularities in the way the body or mind operates may go unnoticed because of their minimal nature. However, if the person makes their imperfection known then they are placed in the bucket with all the others that ďcanítĒ. We donít give everyone a blank chalkboard. We give them a board with their hindrances, insecurities, and our opinions firmly carved into its surface. We need to reach a point where differences are appealing and cherished.
The right to worship was so important to our forbears that the Constitution of the United States of America was refused as a plan of government until that freedom was ensured in the Bill of Rights, as the First Amendment. However, we choose to ignore this equivocal liberty to anyone other than ourselves. We have been reared to fancy ourselves faultless in our theology. Whatever weíve been told by our mortal spiritual leaders is seen as from God itself. Humans arenít perfect. We fear what we donít know and arenít familiar with. If we continue to keep each other in the dark and afraid of the worldís faiths we will never understand and accept the beauty found in each precious culture. America is unique in the fact that we have never enforced religion so that there may be peace in the fact that we are in charge of our own beliefs. The greatest teaching of Jesus Christ was to love others as yourself, but this aspect of Christianity is found in Islam, Buddhism, and countless other creeds. One would think this message of tolerance and love for others would have caught on in a couple of thousand years.
Race, or color has always been an issue of conflict. Recently one of our great peacemakers, Jim Henson, passed away. He had the insight to create a colorful fun-filled world for children where anything was possible , any creature, any hue or size could come to life free from the shackles of human ignorance. Many people donít know and simply donít care that the voice and life of Elmo is supplied by a black puppeteer. I believe Mr. Henson spoke best through Kermit the Frog when he sang ďItís Not Easy Being GreenĒ. Itís not easy being any color whether it be red, black ,brown, yellow, or white. Life isnít easy and trying to fit oneself in a slot when some of us simply donít fit just makes it that much harder. Humans are like Crayola Crayons, they keep inventing new shades every year, but they continue to come in a cardboard box and everyone still loves Crayola Crayons.
In order to form a more perfect America we must forget the old regime ans realize that the letter of the day is ďTĒ for Tolerance.