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September 21, 2023

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Rise above bigotry, not worth self frustration, anger

Going home for the summer can be a challenge for me.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the most prominent is the fact that I’ve changed so much over the years, most notably due to my education. I’m a senior this year and I can feel the impact that the previous three years of higher education has had on my being. To put it bluntly, my experiences in college [both inside and outside of the classroom] has worn thin my patience for ignorance and bigotry. I began to be aware of this fact during my summer vacation, while I was away from the general open-minded and accepting atmosphere of college and in what is, unfortunately, the real world.

When I’m at school, I feel that I am surrounded by so many bright, open-minded individuals. I get so immersed in intelligent conversation with my peers that I sometimes forget that ignorance and bigotry exists.

When I return home, however, reality sets in and I am faced with the daunting task of accepting the fact that not everyone takes the time to educate themselves about certain topics before speaking about them. And while the people who are closest to me at home are bright-minded and understanding, many of those on the outer circle — those who I am connected to only mutually — tend to be rather bigoted, to say the least.

There are many examples I could use to support my statement.

For instance, one person that I unfortunately encountered openly admitted he would never want to be friends with a homosexual man, while his peer stated that he had no problem with gay people, but he did have an issue if they decided to hit on him [though I knew he hit on girls when he was interested in them, but I digress].

Statements like these, a mixture of explicit and implicit homophobia, are just a snippet of the ignorance I face when I go home. I’ve also heard various judgmental and rude statements about the less fortunate, the treatment of women in society and even racial minorities, to name a few.

To be perfectly honest, my experiences have left me somewhat jaded.

I hate that there are people in the world who gleefully spew their bigotry and never realize the damage they cause. But I’ve come to realize that the people like the ones I’ve encountered so many times in the past will never change. They are the kind of people who will keep their views the same no matter how harmful or poorly evidenced. And as difficult as it is to accept, the only thing I can do is ignore those people and do the best I can to be the exact opposite.

As I begin to realize that I no longer have the patience for bigotry or those who are willfully ignorant, I am also beginning to learn that it is extremely unhealthy for me to let the small-mindedness of another get me so riled up. In order to live a happy, healthy life, I’ve come to understand that it’s important to pick and choose when to suffer fools and most of the time it isn’t worth it.

I know that the sooner I accept this fact of life, the happier I’ll be — a lesson that can be helpful to all.

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