Martin Niemöller, a Dachau survivor, is best remembered for the following quote:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
While Martin and I have very different backgrounds, I’ve found this quote pertaining to my situation. On a recent Free Talk Live broadcast, someone called in claiming young adults were among the most discriminated groups of people in society. This is debatable, but I can’t help but agree. As a young adult, I find myself waiting a lot. I wait to be a certain age so I can do a certain thing, if I so choose. This is because I, among many, have been deemed irresponsible, under-qualified, or incapable of decision making.
I believe I am more than capable of practicing self-government. I can handle myself according to simple concepts like not victimizing people and doing whats right. I voluntarily seek knowledge, and look to better myself. I feel I don’t need someone to tell me what to do. There’s no doubting the fact that I don’t know everything. I may not be ready to go out and face the world all on my own. My elders have more experience than I, and it’d be ignorant to suggest otherwise. However, I am a human being, and not a stupid one. I surely do understand right from wrong. I demonstrate my good qualities, and try to set an example for others. I am not a minority. I present myself well, yet some choose not to talk to me, simply because of my age. They believe they’re predisposed to their judgments. Some treat me as a criminal, but I’m not sure when being young became a crime? Though it’s demeaning, I don’t mind. Undermine me all you want, but those who point fingers should make sure their hands are clean. Anybody generous enough to spend some time getting to know me will tell you that I’m not your typical teen. That’s all well and good. I appreciate that, but age doesn’t matter to me.
I am an individual, and I’d like to be seen as such. Sadly, I’m judged based on the actions of my peers, and illogical assumptions. I go to a public high school and I had a Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I understand how impressionable, obnoxious, immature, mean, arrogant, and downright stupid people my age can be. Many are capable, but irresponsible when it comes to alot. They’ve grown accustomed to conformity, and of course, compliance. I find it rather sad that they don’t think for themselves, and waste the awesome individual they could be. They waste their time involved in a clique, trying to be someone they’re not, or hiding in the school bathroom during lunch. Perhaps they’re afraid to be themselves, if they even have any idea who they are. I have come across a lot of arrogant, irresponsible, immature, etc. people in my day. It turns out that anybody, despite their age, can act in a juvenile manner. The descriptions above sum up quite a few people society has generously provided with the title “adult”. Then, I’ve met people around my age who are, by all means, capable of productive self-government. Most do as they do “regardless of what others think,” as a friend put it. If only it didn’t matter what other people thought.
As for the heathens previously mentioned, some will evolve. Most will remain ignorant throughout the years. Where was this ignorance learned? It could have been picked up from public schooling and other teenagers, but I believe it was handed down. The September 2nd broadcast of LIK radio also gave logical theories. Slavery has not been abolished. Look what we advocate in the mainstream media. Violence in the middle east is glorified. Children are encouraged to follow trends and do right by everybody else’s standards. Politics are on every other channel. Lies are brought before the public eye every single day. This is only what we see in the media, say nothing about word of mouth. People older, and apparently, much smarter than me believe a lot of these lies. They are model Orwellian slaves, and they’ve become oblivious. Ignorance is strength. They believe they’re entitled to their judgments, however wrong they may be. Let’s take my friend Joe, for example. He is quite average. He grew up doing just about whatever he was told. Fear, more than any other factor, made him the man he is today. On a daily basis, he reads the latest falsehoods the media provides him with. He blindly supports violence and encourages obedience. He controls and he is controlled. He doesn’t know love because he doesn’t know truth. His selfishness and arrogance has a negative effect on others. Every once in a while, Joe will blurt out a hateful slur in front of his son. Impressionable as children are, discriminatory thoughts begin to stir inside him. Now the young boy sneers at the neighbor girl, with her dark skin and strange accent. The cycle continues. Your average joe is a fool, and these are the fools that make up society.
I am not your average Joe. I’ve emancipated myself from mental slavery, and societal norms. I am above the intolerance and will have no part in it. I’d never judge someone by their age, race, or any physical trait. A lack of understanding steers us from unity. When you discriminate, you only generate hate and fear. What matters to me is the actions of a person. If someone is peaceful, respectful, reliable, and honest with me and others, they’re fine by me. I subscribe to the golden rule: Do unto others… If I come across a hater, I’ll pity and forgive them. I’ve come to the conclusion that hate only hurts the hater. Some people can’t, or won’t relate. Instead, they judge me. How dare I not be just like everybody else? Really, how dare I not acknowledge the higher claim they supposedly have to me? I refuse to take part in their gossip, and alternatively, associate with a different group of people. This fuels their hate so they scheme and speculate. Even a rumor that does not have a leg to stand on will find another way to get around. I don’t let this scare me, or bring me down. That’s what a hater wants, a negative reaction. You shoot me down, and I’ll get up. I don’t reward people for bad behavior. It’s really a disgusting display of pure idiocy.
You can’t always believe what you hear. I’ll say it again, if only it didn’t matter what other people thought. I say this because I recently had a lot taken from me due to people acting out of ignorance and fear. I had done nothing wrong, and it’s unfair, but life isn’t fair is it? I’ll be alright. Whatever happens my toes are still tappin’. I’ll just wait for more time to pass. Until that time passes, I’ll stay positive. As if I’m really going to let anyone drive me away from something I’m passionate about. You don’t have to take me seriously but I am not a joke. Nobody can uproot my conscience and I cannot unlearn what I have learned. For this I am grateful and I’ll carry on with my activism. I’ve been finding out who my real friends are, and many thanks to them. Now I have a thought for anyone who has returned good intentions with ostracism. What happens when you are the target? Everybody talks, and there’s no preventing it. Who says you’re safe? You could take this Niemöller quote and re-word it to make it true about the loss of your liberties. Despite how unfair it is, eventually, they’ll come for you too. In the meantime, as long as we can live in harmony, why can’t we be friends? ☮