To Everyone at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School:
As a high schooler, I have seen my fair share of insults and harassment. The maturity level varies greatly in a building stuffed with kids ranging from 13-18 years old. Swears are dropped without a blink of an eye and talking behind the back of peers is an everyday occurrence. But that is not why I am writing this article. Swears are a way to express extreme emotions and I don’t think we are ever going to get people to become secure enough with themselves to stop bringing down those that they envy. I want to bring to attention the rise of insults dealing with politics.
We live in an era where platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allow anyone with the internet to share their opinion with the world. These social media sites can be great to have intelligent conversations about diverse topics. Allowing our voices to be heard is a vital part of our society and I am grateful that we can be critics of our government without having to fear legal repercussions. However, as you may know, not all conversations on the internet are productive and positive.
This election has polarized Americans, exposing our deep divides that until recently were masked by modesty and ignorance. We knew that there were people who didn’t agree with us, but we chose to ignore them and bubble ourselves into a community of like-minded individuals. As our bubbles strengthened, people no longer cared to debate with others who had different beliefs. One of our major failures as a society came to light with this presidential election: understanding each other.
This election told us to take a side and defend it with your life. We were told that if we didn’t fight now, the other side would destroy everything you believed in. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to have a conversation about what changes we should make to the country in order to improve the life of American’s, we saw this election as a call to tear down the opposition with bigotry and misogyny. The only way to have our voices be heard was to scream over someone else’s. The people who were with her didn’t understand how someone could support him, and vice versa.
Because we refused to listen to each other, the only way the sides interacted was through trading insults and slander. This occurred between adults and translated to the children, who are the true victims of this election. Unfortunately, as the two presidential candidates said horrible things to each other, children watched. They observed how these individuals treated one another and believed that what they were doing was an acceptable way to behave.
The party polarization infested high schools across America. Even if a student was not educated on policy facts and conflicts around the world, they simply repeated what they heard their parents say. The combination of misunderstanding and bad role models led to high school student’s belief that their opinion was right and everyone who disagreed should be silenced. An opinion is something that cannot be wrong or right. You should never try to disprove someone’s opinion, but you can talk to them about how they came up with that idea.
School shouldn’t be a place for rude and hate-fueled attacks. We have the opportunity to take what is happening with our government and share our thoughts and opinions on it. Instead of attacking others for what they believe in, we should embrace our differences and discuss them. And to those who are shocked at how polarized America is, this is not something that happened overnight, this division has been brewing for a very long time.
I am guilty of this and so are many people at Peabody High.
We don’t improve as a community and as a country when we dismiss those who have a different view on certain issues. I am tired of hearing people belittling others in an effort to make their opinions seem invalid. I want to be in an environment where our ideas matter and intelligent conversation is sparked instead of fighting. Together we can change how we interact with each other, all it takes it is accepting our differences instead of ignoring them.