by Taylor Cook
The beautiful state of South Carolina makes ample opportunities available to all people. From wonderful colleges to renowned beaches and other travel destinations, the Palmetto State has so much to offer. Still, every state has room for improvement. South Carolina has always been the place I call home, so I have been able to witness the good and the bad growing up here. The problems facing our nation today seem more than overwhelming, but trying to improve our states, counties, cities, schools, and families eases some of that tension. While
we may not be able to fix all the world’s problems in an instant, we can focus on
changing things here. South Carolina would be greatly improved if everyone were taught the value of acceptance at a young age.
Acceptance is the overarching idea that everyone is created equal and in the image of God. This issue has presented itself vividly in 2020 in the form of racial inequality; however, this issue dates back much further than the 21st century, and it can be witnessed in more casual settings. For example, religion has become such a touchy subject that any discussion of it has become strongly discouraged in schools. Avoiding our differences does not make them go away; in fact, it divides us further. Learning is the key to growth and understanding. Everyone comes from a different background, and people need to learn and respect that. That said, not everyone has to agree with the beliefs or values of others, but no one should try to shove their opinions on someone else. Polite and respectful discussions are very much needed in our world today. Going to a charter school has given me a lot more freedom to learn about other cultures, religions, and ethnicities.
I want to brag on my school, Greenville Technical Charter High School, for a second
because it has been a wonderful example in the lives of so many by demonstrating what true inclusion
looks like. Everyone is welcomed with open arms at Greenville Tech. We have students who are black, white, Hispanic, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, quiet, loud, and everything
in between who are all friends. We are free and encouraged to talk about our differences. During my first three years of high school I have become much more knowledgeable about diverse cultures and have a better understanding of the world. From celebrating Hanukkah to learning
how to put on a hijab, I have become friends with some of the most amazing people
who have taught me so much.
I believe South Carolina could work on the issue of acceptance by encouraging students to have those awkward conversations and learn more about each other. Even if it is uncomfortable at first, such conversations will prove beneficial in the classroom and later in life because students will have more respect for and a better understanding of their peers. We should not be afraid to ask questions when we are curious about someone else’s opinion but be respectful when doing so. Shaming or putting others down for having a different viewpoint is not cool and should not be tolerated. Every person is created uniquely and deserves to be respected and understood. I do not always agree with or understand where someone else is coming from, but I ask questions to gain more information, and love and accept them as a person.
While this time of pandemic is not ideal for being around people, we still can make an honest effort to be more understanding. Whether on social media, Zoom calls, or chats with friends – six feet apart of course – be kind. Life is too short not to branch out and learn more about the world around us.
Show compassion. Show love. Show grace. Show acceptance.