Megan Vandeberghe ‘16 – Diversity is present throughout all the world and is in a constant state of change. Across the globe, it’s what makes the human race so unique to other species. Sources of diversity range from physical features such as eye color or race, to ideas and customs like religion: one of the most varied and fascinating things that makes us who we are.
However, just hearing the word “religion” can sometimes cause a surge of discomfort to instantaneously overtake your body. But why is it that this artistic part of culture that is perhaps one of the most prominent sources of diversity on the planet is something that people, including teenagers, feel the need to hide?
As high school students, we tend to whip out our “fight or flight” instincts whenever the topic of religion is brought up. It’s a ridiculous concept, but it’s exactly what continuously happens. Some students, on the other hand, take a more confident approach to the concept, regardless of potential judgements, by being proud of who they are and what they believe in.
Adam Krstich ‘15, a Mormon who remains dedicated to and proud of his religious views, shares his thoughts on society’s effect on the issue.
”I think society wants you to have an opinion but doesn’t want you to share it,” Krstich said. “It’s really unfair, though, and it shouldn’t be that way. My religion is the driving force for every part of my life.”
Like many others, Krstich struggles with society’s judgment on anyone who doesn’t run with the majority. But the oppressive atmosphere doesn’t stop at the inner walls of the school. Each day, somewhere in the world, there are people being treated with injustice and hate due to their religious beliefs. It happens everywhere, even in your hometown.
“It’s definitely more difficult for teenagers to share their religious views than grown adults because of peer pressure, but that’s why I’m proud to be a part of STATIC,” Mr Leitzel, co-leader of STATIC (Students Taking Action Together In Christ) said. “Students can come and express their religion without fear of being judged.”
Perhaps a safe haven is a simple solution to the evident subjection, but should it be necessary?
Cymoril Binder ‘15, a Romeo student who identifies as Wiccan, has something else in mind.
“My religious views are part of what I am,” Binder said. “If you’re comfortable with my religion then you should be comfortable with me. I think it’s a positive thing when other people share their religious views, as long as they aren’t telling me I’m going to Hell.”
If the foundation of the United States was built off of unity, why are we, as a people, so divided now? If the majority says that religious differences should be heard, embraced even, then it’s time for a change.
With that, I propose a challenge to Romeo students: be open to the concept that not everyone is going to believe in the same God, or even any God at all. Not everyone has similar religious customs, but everyone still deserves to be treated with the same respect you desire. I encourage curiosity in other’s beliefs as well as communicating your ideals, but consider the esteem and feelings of others. Even the popular music artist Macklemore says, “Whatever God you believe in, we come from the same one.”