You're Going to Hell
By Shawn, age 14, Kansas
That's what I was told about three days ago by a measly ten year old. Hell? Me? I'm a generally good person - or so I think. How does someone like me deserve to go to Hell? Is it because I'm agnostic? Because I wasn't raised the same way they were? Because I cannot bring myself to see exactly what they're seeing?
Well, guess what? I'm not going to Hell, and there is no way you can tell me that and make me believe what you're saying.
So is the attitude of most if not all of us. Don't get me wrong. I am totally open and will ponder any ideas, just as long as they're respectful and reasonable. But telling me I'm going to Hell is a little too far. Insulting me is my breaking point. Of course, I should've expected it, given the fact that we were talking about religion, and I was debating against people who have lived their whole lives focusing on one idea. But at that point, I felt truly and honestly helpless. I had always been with people who would listen to me, and try to see it from my point of view. I was not used to talking to those who were so stubborn that they would not even take the time or effort to hear what I was saying. It made me wonder ... Am I like this?
Scary stuff - politics and religion, that is. Every person you meet (well, almost) will have their own unique opinion, which is a great thing! If it weren't for the ability to be unique and to think for yourself, the world would be bland and dull, as well as a dictatorship. However, these kinds of subjects tend to get the best of people. Once in a while (or more often), you'll have that conversation where you just lose all of your wits, and think, How can they even think this? Admit it - we all have these moments. Some more than others, but we do, and that is why we are at war. That's why we have conflicts in this world, and why people kill others ... Because we cannot accept anything we were not grown up with. Because we judge a whole population on a small portion of them we hear about in the media.
Is this the way we should be living? Shouldn't we be thinking for ourselves, and actually taking into consideration what others are saying? Yes, you're saying? Think about it - are you doing this on a regular basis? Are you constantly rethinking your ideas, and thinking about new ones? Are you really? No? It's not as easy as it sounds, that's for sure. The truth is, people will respect you more if you do. People will take what you say more seriously if they know that you take the time to form your opinions. They will really listen if you consider evidence from both sides of an argument. Not only will you sound smarter to others, you will start to realize that your ideas are much more interesting and unique!
So the next time you find yourself in a heated argument, and you feel your head growing hot and your skin boiling, stop and think. Take a few seconds to review what you're saying and to listen to what the other side is saying. Don't take this the wrong way, though. Don't stop forming opinions and believing in your causes. And don't think you're a horrible person if you don't agree with what the other person is saying, or if your debate gets heated. An intelligent conversation is supposed to do that, remember? So never stop fighting for yourself.
As long as you take a few minutes every day to think about what you really believe, you're contributing more to this world than you can imagine.