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Posts Tagged ‘Tolerance’

Hello, again!

Okay- so there’s been a rather long gap since my last posting and now, but nothing has really happened. No one ever got back to me about those presentations that I talked about earlier, and then I became part of a local musical that had me practicing until at least eight or nine at night every day. But, I have been asked to present at my school’s faculty meeting this coming Wednesday, and that is most definitely a concrete plan of action, something tangible I can plan for and look forward to.

You see, in my county we have what are called Global Initiatives. Our schools are graded on exactly how many global points we acquire- a certain number of points for the percentage of students that have traveled, for the percentage that speak a foreign language fluently, for this event or that event or this global awareness program or that. Last year, for example, our students put on an “International Fair,” where we pretty much went around and learned about the countries of the world and got cute little flags.

Obviously, doing Pennies for Peace would garner our school a great number of points. But hey- here’s to hoping that the school cares more about the points, no? Actually, I’m pretty sure they could put me in charge of globalizing the school and it would work pretty well…

just kidding.

But, now, for storytime! Today at lunch I was talking about how excited I was that Adam Lambert was performing on American Idol this coming Thursday (for those of you who don’t know, he’s kind of my guilty pleasure.) Before I had even finished saying that statement, the guy beside me looks up and says, “He’s the gay one, right?” Well, yes. But it’s because he’s a good singer, and that’s what matters, I replied. And of course- what with me living in a rural area in the South- an argument about religion and rights of gays and lesbians and whatnot ensued. What matters, however, is how the conversation ended.

He looked at me and said, as the bell rang and we stood up to throw our trays away, “I’m sorry, but I was just raised to be intolerant.” I don’t get mad easily, but that really did make me quite angry. The fact that he knew it- he KNEW he had been raised to be intolerant, was consciously aware of it- and he wasn’t doing anything about it. The fact that he didn’t care enough to think, “Oh, is being intolerant wrong, or right? Why?” The fact that he simply took what he had been taught and accepted it without question.

I remember at a scholarship interview a few weekends ago we had to read an article written by Paulo Friere entitled, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In the article, he talks about the “banking” method of education- how students are bank deposit boxes and are simply being filled with knowledge, without critically analyzing why it is so. This kid at lunch reminded me of that. (Plus it is a MAGNIFICENT read, and worth the time and effort involved, at the very least.)

I think Pennies for Peace would be a great asset to our school, if only to show the kids that are “raised to be intolerant” that tolerance is often the best option.

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Today in my AP English 4 class we somehow got into a discussion about religion. I think that it followed with Beowulf or Grendel, but that’s what we ended up talking about- how to understand literature, you must detach religion from history so that you can analyze the readings from an unbiased standpoint. It was interesting to see how most of my classmates could not do this little thing- simply detaching themselves from their religion for one moment in order to open their minds to something else.

I think that, if I were in their shoes, I might have a hard time, too. I will go ahead and admit that I’m not the most religious person- but that’s neither here nor there. It just astounded me that, for others, opening your mind meant carrying extra baggage. A lot of extra baggage- and with it, a ton of extra flight fees. My intention with Pennies for Peace is to open people’s minds. But to do that, I’m going to have to overcome so much more.

Religion might have nothing to do with what my goal is. And yet, it seems like everything we do- everything from relations between the Middle East and America to giving a child a pencil- drags behind it the lingering tail of a different belief.

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