How Can You Make the World A Better Place?
Ari' Ana Jenkins, Division 2, 10th grade

Voltaire once stated in his French novel, Candide that “We must cultivate our garden”. Around the time Voltaire had published his book Candide, he had begun to speak on the many ways we could begin to change the world around us. Through his novel, I was able to discover that he and I, have come to share a similar belief. The belief being that we must first, discover what we desire from others, deep within ourselves. We must seek kindness, tolerance, and respect from ourselves first because to do so, we, in turn, ask for the same from our peers. By finding these traits, in ourselves before demanding them of others, we are able to change our outlook. Which in turn, changes our actions and improve our community, in the best way possible.

Kindness is often considered unmeasurable. For example, one cannot place kindness on a scale and see how many pounds, ounces, or grams that you can give. While I must admit, you may not be able to weigh kindness, I disagree that kindness is unmeasurable. Kindness can be measured by the number of people that wish to surround themselves around you. Yet, you will never be able to measure just how much your kindness affects people. You may not know who you just opened the door for, or smiled too. The best example I have found, of just how much a simple act of kindness can move somebody, comes from Lao Tzu. “Kindness in words creates confidence, in thinking, creates profoundness, and in giving creates love.” In other words, the way others may perceive your kindness and generosity should not be important to just you but, also to whom you were kind to. Simply because, you never know who will be affected by your acts of kindness, and just how they will be affected. Compassion and kindness have been known to run hand in hand. Creating a deep understanding between you and your peers. Just as we have found kindness in our hearts, we find tolerance in our heart. Extremely careful making sure that we show compassion, courtesy, and kindness, to every human being we run across.

When I think of the word tolerance, I think that to be considered tolerant, we must show our tolerance. To have tolerance, one must accept that everyone has an opinion. On just about anything, and to say, or try to prove otherwise, is to erase our knowledge. To erase our most basic human interaction skills from our minds, and our cultures. Which, in turn, affects our actions, changing our thoughts, and words in a negative manner. “Tolerance is giving every other human being every right that you claim to yourself.” –Robert Greene. Meaning, that it doesn’t matter if you don’t like the way someone has looked at you, or treated you in the past. You must find it within yourself to forgive all aspects of their past, and their present attitude towards you. If you are willing to forgive, but not forget all your peer’s past, then you have proven to be capable of growth. You will be able to grow, beyond comprehension, and look to your peers, with the same integrity that you carry yourself with. Without this growth, we would forever, be in the same cycle of hate, that this generation has come to know all too well. That poisonous cloud of hatred, which hovers over our thoughts, makes it difficult to tell the difference between true courtesy, and the greed that comes as a result of misleading kindness. Though it still comes as a shock, as I watch my peers live their life, without showing not even one ounce of courtesy.

Courtesy is something that I believe we all are worthy of. Whether you are African-American, Native American, such as myself, Hispanic, Latino, Black, or White, you are deserving of the same courtesy that I receive, and that I give. To carry yourself with respect is to show your respect for others. When you find, that you are able to carry yourself with integrity, and dignity, you find that you are just as equally able to give all your peers the politeness that they have proven to deserve. This will show through, and affect your peers more than you might be able to comprehend. For example, you could give a simple smile to a complete stranger as you pass them walking down a hall, or street, and you will have thought nothing of it. The color, gender, or race of the person doesn't matter. As William Penn once said, “I know no religion that destroys courtesy, civility, and kindness.”

I know that the approach I have written about is said by many, brilliant in theory, but painful and difficult in practice. I for one, could not agree more. In fact, sometimes, I begin to question whether, enacting revenge is better than the forgiveness that I write about today. Yet I know, that I cannot expect from my peers, what in turn I do not provide. On any given day; I will have to walk the halls of my school, and for every person, I smile at, I will normally receive a glare in return. This, I find is a perfect example of our inability to give the kindness, tolerance, and courtesy that we often find ourselves giving our friends and family, to your everyday random strangers, or the people you seldom know.

Furthermore, I believe that it is that same inability that has changed our once positive outlook, and view on life, to a dark, and negative one. In conclusion, I believe that to make our world a better place, for our future and current generations, we must first change our outlook on life. By changing our individual minds, hearts, and bodies to think, and act on a more positive outlook.
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