KidSpirit

Are the Lines that Divide Us Real or Imagined?

Unity and DivisionThe Big Question
Artwork by: Caleb Ramirez

America: the home of the brave, where huddled masses come yearning to be free, where all humans are created equal.

A land where you and I are given the same respect, no matter who you are and no matter who I am. A place where voices of dissent are given the microphone to speak, where everyone uses the same water fountain, and where all are allowed to walk down the street in whatever head scarf, wig, or covering they want.

A land of the free and those waiting to be freed. A land that was fought so hard for, a land that was at a point of disunion but was able to mend its frayed ties before it was too late.

America: a land of mothers, pères, hijos, and ttal. A string of words in different languages that once put together create a picture of a family, and all of the members have a connection to each other. Even though we don’t all look alike, we all share similarities. And yet with all of our similarities we choose to point out the miniscule differences in each other, hoping that it will differentiate us from our family members, from our kin.

America's strengths and weaknesses are not confined to the nation, they are the prevailing demeanor of most organized groups. Since the beginning of our human story, each individual has tried to stand out and be different from others because, under certain circumstances, standing out has been associated with advantage. Whoever could run faster, hunt quicker, gather more berries was more likely to survive the harsh conditions of prehistoric earth. At the end of the day, our ancestors were all human, a part of the same species, but their differences allowed them to succeed.

The truth is that there are similarities and differences between people of all walks of life. What we usually choose to notice, though, is our differences, and while they can most definitely be used as tools to help us create better societies, governments, and communities, they are also points of friction, discord, and animosity. Humans are, unfortunately, very good at believing that we are superior to other people — that we know better, that our beliefs are better, that our skin tone is better. Yet while we are not always socially or politically equal to each other, we all have the same duty to treat each other with respect.

Present-day America allows people of all walks of the political spectrum to speak their minds. But while each side is speaking, the other is refusing to listen. Some see the similarities in each other and try to reach compromise, but most just dwell on the differences. And while these differences are important in order to have such a innovative and changing nation, it is ultimately we the people who create the lines that divide us.

However, difference does not have to become division if one thing is kept in mind: that we all deserve respect from other people. We all have to be open to others’ ideas, even if they differ from ours, because if we spend all of our time around people who only think like us, we can never improve. Even if we completely disagree with what another person says, understanding their argument can at least help us refute it. And, while we may completely disagree with each other on one issue, or even multiple issues, there are always things that we share because we all are human.

We are all people: we all come from mothers, we all eat to live, we all want to have a purpose in life, we all want to experience pleasure. These things may vary but we all have desires that we hope can be achieved. We all share similarities and we all share differences. It is our similarities that allow us to form connections with each other and our differences that help us collectively grow as a people.

At times it may be incredibly easy to completely write off a group as incorrect, but we shouldn't use differences of opinion as an excuse to isolate each other into imaginary boxes. In order to create a better tomorrow, we must acknowledge and respect our differences and honor our similarities.

Maya Mesh is a junior at Millennium High School in New York City.

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