Verbatim: Right, wrong? Writer asks who's to say?

Posted: Monday, October 11, 2010

I am a SoHi Student. I am a senior. I am 17-years-old. I am liberal.

This is what defines me, but sometimes I wonder how many of these characteristics I chose. How many of my attributes are products of surrounding circumstances? I grew up with the freedom to choose my own views, and I thought I chose to be liberal. I always believed I thought for myself.

I often get frustrated in social situations when people are discriminatory towards gay people or people of different religious beliefs. Once, someone told me they didn't feel they should spend time with people of different religions, I was glad I had chosen to view things differently. It bothered me how people could be so pass about things. I didn't understand how they could be content with not knowing why they believed something, just that their parents did, so they did too. But now I have come to question it. Am I really different? Or am I liberal because my parents are liberal? Had I grown up with conservative parents, would I view the world differently?

The way I think about the world is exactly the way my parents do. I attribute this to the fact that, although they never told me what to think, they set an example in showing me how. Thinking about it, I realized that my opinion is just another pattern of thought. Although I stand by my beliefs, I acknowledge that if I had committed to a conservative thought pattern early in my life, I would probably view it as the right way instead. Even those of us who make an honest attempt at forming independent opinions cannot escape the influence of our surroundings.

As difficult as it is to accept, my defining features are not solely a result of my own choices. They are a product of where I grew up and the people who raised me. I have come to realize that others views are also a result of how they were raised. They, like me, committed to a thought pattern early in life and believe their resultant views to be the right way.

As teenagers, we have little experience paying taxes or buying health insurance, so we must observe the adults closest to us. So when forming an opinion, we go back to what we know -- we go back to the reactions we have observed in our parents. To the way of thought our parents demonstrated when we were children.

Truly, can we think someone else right or wrong for his or her views? Everyone will believe their own views are right. They have grown up with that way of thinking their entire life. The most difficult thing to accept, particularity in the hypercritical environment of high school, is that every opinion is only an opinion, none more right than the other. Even our own.

This article is the opinion of Angela Ramponi. Ramponi is a senior at Soldotna High School.

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