Cora Franks 8/22/09 American Lit. A Vicious Circle From the time people are old enough to speak, most of the same beliefs, rules, and lifestyles are drilled into their heads with the expectation that they will grow up to be “good” people, and they will go on to bring up their children to the same standards. Going to church on Sundays, marrying the opposite sex, and essentially not really being any different than anyone else is what the majority of us are taught to live by.
I believe that because of this, when people grow to be teenagers or young adults they do not accept those who have different lifestyles, such the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community. I feel that the fear of strangers, or xenophobia, stems from the way we were raised and what we were told was normal and acceptable. Having a strong faith in God and having firm religious beliefs are often what shapes people’s lives. This can be beneficial in helping teenagers make good decisions and stay out of trouble.
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However, understandings of these lessons both by the teacher and interpreter have caused discrimination again the gay, lesbian, and bisexual society. For example, we are brought up to treat others how we would want to be treated and to accept everyone, yet we are also told that homosexuality is a one way ticket to Hell. This contradiction has led people to not accept the differences between them and the homosexual community, but to shy away out of the fear of knowing they are going against the grain.
From the time we are at Sunday school learning “Jesus Loves Me”, we were also told about Adam and Eve, the children they spawned, and the pattern we are expected to and have followed. These ruts have been carved into us for many generations and have influenced how we react to differences and the unfamiliar. To standby and watch people we love being hurt by rejection is something no one desires, especially a parent. No parent wants to find their child hurting because they are receiving grief from their peers as a result of their diversity.
To avoid this, most parents will try to raise their children in “normal” environments in hopes that they will develop to lead the same “normal” life. Although this is a very understandable approach, it does not do much for those who were not brought up given the list of what was taboo nor does it do much for those who cannot help what differences they may have (homosexuality or disabilities). Most of us are not raised being told that it is ok to be homosexual, and this explains why the homosexual societies are often outsiders.
People do not know how to react to the unfamiliar, so they will often avoid or ridicule them. An additional regrettable element of it all is that when these young adults and teenagers reach adulthood, they will in all likelihood not stray far from their early set margins. This is to say they will go on to introduce their children to the same conduct in which they were brought up. Hence, this cycle continues for generations leaving those new ideas of acceptance of the unfamiliar at bay.
Whether it is at church or the simple teachings of parents, we are receiving lessons from a very young age. Some of these messages have consequences that are not only affecting people’s ability to spark a relationship with new people, but are affecting those who simply want to be accepted as they are. This fear of foreigners can be prevented. It must start with what we teach our kids, and what example we put forth to them, for what people teach their kids to be normal will follow them the rest of their life.