Reflecting on an experience such as the past weeks is difficult. There are so many emotions. The brain hasn’t had a chance to process and assimilate all the sensations.
Because of this experience, I wonder about my own prejudices. I find biases everywhere. I have thoughts about smokers and New Yorkers and men and hoodlums and ignorant people and fundamentalist religious followers and welfare abusers, and so many more. It’s hard to accept. I am certain people have these same thoughts about the various groups into which I find myself a member.
It saddens me because I felt like I was a person who looked at the individual, not the group stereotype. Yet, I have the same frailties of those who hate. Maybe the lesson we take from this exposure to the results of hatred is that we each carry prejudices within us. It is what we do during those moments when these biases rear their ugly heads that determines what kind of people we are.
Perhaps this is the lesson we teachers give to the children in our charge. Our choices have consequences. How do we make the choices? What do we do with the consequences of the choices we make? Ultimately, permit ourselves the time to consider and make a choice. I take from this experience that standing aside as a bystander is never the right choice. I must encourage my students to take a stand, to make a difference, and to change the world—no matter how small a scale that world might encompass.
This is the action I choose to take. It may be only a drop in this great big world, but I can’t wait to see how the ripples my drop makes will fan out and affect the ocean of our world.