Growing up and finding what your moral values are can be difficult. It takes a lot of abstract thinking about each situation in order to determine what is right or wrong. Being raised in the time of the millennial generation, I have been exposed to massive amounts of information throughout my life. I was shaped by a world connected through advances in technology and thousands of years worth of history being covered by multiple media sources with differing opinions. The beauty of being exposed to the media that has 24/7 coverage of events around the world is that one can explore different views on what has occurred in the past, how the events of the past contributed to the present, and the possible outcomes or consequences of the future due to issues in the present. Society is not the best when it comes to handling new information, especially controversial matters. There are usually two strong opinions that battle over the right answer to the topic. The extremists only see in black or white and can’t understand the others view without feeling that they are compromising some of their own morals. Each individual thinks that their own answer is right, and fail to see that middle ground. It has been proven time after time that the world is neither black nor white, but mixed shades of gray that act as a middle ground between two extremes. Every extreme needs to be explored before determining one’s own stance on a matter. It allows for the integration of new ideals to expand upon previous ways of thinking.
One major controversy that has been featured multiple times within the media is whether or not same-sex marriages should be legalized. This has been a controversy for generations, as homosexuality has been discriminated against by numerous societies throughout history due to religious controversy and misconceived notions. Only within the last few decades have members of the LGBT community been able to come out of hiding and demand their right to be treated equally regardless of sexuality. Same-sex marriage has been in the media recently due to the Obergefell vs Hodges trail that is being heard by the US Supreme Court. This particular court case is said to make history, as it may determine whether or not members of the LGBT community will be allowed to marry legally nationwide. Many States within the US, including Nebraska, Arkansas, Missouri, and South Dakota, await the final decision from the Supreme Court before deciding on how to act on it as well. Judges in each of these States have ruled that each State’s respective gay-marriage bans have been deemed unconstitutional.
In the past, speculation and fear have driven the actions of society. Topics of the unknown (things that we have little scientific knowledge on) are taken out of proportion and balance can only be achieved by observing the differences between what’s right and what’s wrong. The media had skewed ideas based on the biased opinion of the narrator and exaggerated rumors that had been spread. Citizens became stuck in their ways of thinking due to lack of change and traditional values being strongly emphasized. Religious values and morals heavily influence an individual’s behavior, which lead to society shunning LGBT members without knowing all the facts as true. Ideas such as, “They are sinners who will influence more individuals in society to sin as well” circulated, leading to bullying, jail sentencing, service refusal, individuals being beaten, and some individuals even being killed. This has made many individuals hide their identities and sneak around for fear of prosecution if their actions were known. Yet there are so many who want to stand out, to prove that they are “normal”. It wasn’t until the last few decades that homosexuality has started to become more accepted by society due to the influence of those brave enough to come out and endure the discrimination. Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Neil Patrick Harris, Lady Gaga, and Sir Elton John are all notable modern day celebrities who have come out. They have changed the way society interprets the LGBT community as well as displaying that whether or not someone is straight or LGBT, we are all human beings that were created equal and deserve the right to pursue happiness regardless of our age, race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or any other reason.
The media in the modern world is much more complex compared to the past. We are able to share ideas instantly across the globe and observe each others interactions. Embracing the scientific method has allowed us to make accurate observations about the world instead of relying on personal beliefs alone. We can measure and replicate previous studies to explain why/how things occur naturally in the world. By understanding how different things work, the media produces more accurate information from multiple different views. Opinions and bias still circulate within the media today, however with more information, one is able to look between opposing extremes within the topic to form a more well-rounded/balanced opinion on the subject. Science and religion have always clashed as science is whats observable and validity, while religion is based on faith. Each has its own strong suit, and together they make a person who they are.
With each new generation, more information has become available to the general public that allows us to recognize that discriminating against any individual is morally wrong and that we are all created equal. Millennials have been taught this starting at a very early age due to racism and many other types of discrimination that previous generations before us have endured. We have been taught to value each others backgrounds in order to see things in a new abstract way and this helps us grow. We have learned to live up to high standards and we aren’t going to let ourselves or future generations live below the standards we have become accustom to. “Seven in 10 Millennials, for example, support same-sex marriage and say that faith groups alienate young adults by being judgmental on sexual ethics.” This has caused homosexuality to become less controversial in society and discrimination has reduced dramatically. Millennials have grown up in an environment where individuals have been taught empathy and compassion. Most millennials have found that a key way in combating discrimination is by making what’s abnormal, seem relatively normal. Discrimination of all proportions still remains in many parts of this country, and it is the constitutional right of each millennial to teach their children about the anguish that discriminating other individuals may cause. Each generation impacts the next and history has taught us that empathy is key to understanding.
In a poll conducted from 40,000 participants by the Public Religion Research Institute, it was shown that in 2003 only 30% of all Americans that were religiously affiliated supported same-sex marriage. In 2014 this poll was once again measured and it was shown that after 11 years, the percentage had shifted to 47% who supported same-sex marriage, while only 45% opposed. Catholics had an equally surprising upward shift in support, going from 35% in 2003, to 60% in 2014. The Jewish community had the second highest with 77%. One can assume that it is because the Jewish community has dealt with persecution throughout history and they can empathize with the LGBT community regarding equality rights. Buddhism came in first with a high support rating of 84%. Is said that Buddhism isn’t a traditional religion, but a way of bringing harmony and balance into ones life. Mormon’s had a low 27% in support. In 2008, members raised money in an attempt to pass Proposition 8 in California, which would have made same-sex marriage illegal. People fear being persecuted against so much that they will defy their morals and persecute others in the process of avoiding being hurt. This only lead to more discrimination against mormons, but has also lead them to try and reach a middle ground as of late. Mormons leaders have stated that in the process of obtaining equality awareness of the LGBT community, they have left mormons in a place of compromising their own moral beliefs. They ask that they be able to refuse service to whomever they please. There is proof that in the process of standing up for your rights, you too can become an extremist and unintentionally step on the rights of others. Picking your battles wisely can lead to beneficial results, because not everything is worth fighting about. It is the true test of society to be able to adapt to new scientific facts and thousands of years of religious beliefs. Change is constant and is the only way we can incorporate new values. It is how we determine right from wrong. How can we preserve traditional values and still have room for the growing views and values of the future? Can we ever overcome the discrimination?
Since same-sex marriage has become widely more accepted within the past decade, religious figures have customized their teachings in order to reach a compromise within the gray area. Pope Francis is one of the most famous to do this as he give his nod of approval in favor of same-sex marriage/relationships by stating, “Who am I to judge?”, in 2013. This has greatly impacted the Catholic religion and has made way for the Vatican, to produce new idea towards homosexuality. They reported that, “Unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between a man and a woman.” As well as, “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”
Throughout time, individuals have been subcategorized and discriminated against. They miss out on life changing events and lesson associated with them. You are the way you are because of how you were raised and how you learn. Every decision we make or idea we think of is based on what we have been effected by in the past. There are many crucial social events that children must go through in order to feel socially adequate and develop independence. Those who miss out can be left emotionally hurt and this can be interpreted by the brain as physical pain. Due to missing out on those events, the child is continuously trying to catch up to the others. Those who don’t catch up may be discriminated against further, which leads to even more psychological damage, as each event that occurs prepares us for new upcoming events. Children’s brains aren’t fully developed so they cant make decisions on their own. They need guidance, yet in our growing society everyone thinks that someone else will handle it and don’t take things into their own hands. Attending school, feeling safe at school, feeling safe at home, and actually learning the material help secure many of these childhood events. It has been shown that it is best to learn something at a young age and expand upon throughout a lifetime of practice. It can be difficult to make sure each child is adapting well, so schools have incorporated many new techniques so that no child gets left behind in this fast growing economy. Many children who’s custody has been turned over to the State, may miss out on having good homes due to Nebraska having barring gay foster families. Many states still don’t have nondiscrimination laws in place to protect the rights of people. In some states you can legally get married to someone of the same sex, then be fired the next day for being gay. For the sake of future generations, we must teach the children of the upcoming generation to understand the rights of others.
High school can be a judgmental place and who you associate yourself with can determine whether or not you are socially accepted by some cliques. Jacob Lescenski didn’t let this social drama get in the way of him asking his gay friend Anthony Martinez to prom, even though he himself is straight. Many high schools still discourage same-sex dates for events like homecoming and prom. It is said to cause too many disturbances and some parents disapprove. Fortunately for Jacob and Anthony, they attend Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, as this is one of the many high schools that are beginning to allow same-sex date to social events. This act of friendship caught the eye of many, including Ellen DeGeneres and Miley Cyrus. Ellen has been one of the most influential individuals on the planet and has always been a representative of equality. She gained worldwide attention due to her sense of humor and ability to make anyone smile. Neither being a woman, nor being gay stopped her rise to fame. She has been an advocate for furthering educational studies, the LGBT community, and many other charities/organizations. Ellen was touched by the friendship of Jacob and Anthony, so she decided to have them appear on her talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She too would deliver an act of kindness by giving Jacob and Anthony $10,000 each in order to further their studies in college! Miley has grown up with cameras and paparazzi documenting her every move. The world watched her outgrew her “perfect” Hannah Montana image as she transformed into an even bigger icon. She took risks that others wouldn’t have in order for society to recognize the beauty of the abstract. Taking advantage of her publicity, Miley, has advocated equal rights in hopes that her influence will make a difference. Recently she launched the Happy Hippie Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that will help LGBT youth, homeless youth, and other obstacle facing individuals. While tweeting to show support to Jacob and Anthony, she has also shown her support by personally calling a fan who was being bullied due to wearing a “Legalize Gay” T-shirt school. Miley stated, “I just wanted to make clear that she had a legal right to express herself however she wanted.” In an interview with Time Magazine, Miley elaborated on her own sexuality by saying, “I’m not hiding my sexuality. For me, I don’t want to label myself as anything,” and “We love putting people in categories, but what I like sexually isn’t going to label me as a person.” Don’t discriminate, embrace that you are different and have been shaped by the experiences you have encountered. The more we try to conform, the more the outliers stand out in comparison. Embrace the abnormal, in order to truly appreciate what you define as normal.
“What is your religion?” is such a broad question and can be answered in several different ways. Some would answer this question by specifying that they are Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. Others may say they don’t believe in religion or they don’t believe in a higher power. What they don’t know is that religion can simply be interpreted as what do you value, what are your morals? Someones religion can be seen as a way of life and their moral guidelines. Religion is who you are and what you represent. It defines you. Don’t blindly chose your religion, ask yourself what kind of legacy you want to leave on the world. Take all things into consideration. We have more knowledge about the world and its behavior than any other period in history. By learning from the knowledge that has been passed down, we are able to further our research and take advantage of observing all cultures and religions. One of the most important lessons from the past is that discrimination can lead to detrimental results. Who knows, some people may or may not be chosen by fate in order to fulfill prophecies. The Dali Llama, Bill Gates, and Thomas Jefferson are known for impacting the world in ways that were deemed impossible. They are role models that represent hard work, self determination, and the freedom to be diverse. We need to accept all abstract things because for whatever reason, we are all born with the potential to shape society and it is in each of our best interest to empathize with others. Life is all about learning from the past and making a better future. If no mistakes were made how will we ever learn? Even if someone is raised different and has different ideas, that doesn’t mean we should give up on them. We should find new ways to teach and further shape not only our own ideas, but the ideas of others as well. Some people are still going to judge, but we need to be adults and show our ability to adapt to any situation. Discrimination is always going to happen so it is important for people to be able to laugh at themselves. Laugh as often as possible, to live a long life. People are going to joke around about things you care about because they know it bothers you. Learn to laugh and take a joke. Show them you aren’t effected by it, then joke about the stereotype yourself. Just because you may happen to fall into a particular stereotype, doesn’t mean that you are defined by that stereotype. Take the opportunity to stop stereotyping yourself and take advantage of all the great aspects in life. So what if someone jokes about it? Are you going to let one individual impact how you live your life?
Not everything is to be taken literally. Symbolism in moral teaching allows each individual to have their own connection with their religion. Views can shift as new information arises and this allows us to grow not only as individuals, but as a society. New information should be accepted, but not replace other beliefs. It is unconstitutional to tell others that their beliefs are wrong, yet it is also wrong to abandon your own beliefs. Although don’t read into everything that is presented to you, things may or not be there depending on how each person looks at the situation. In this vast and ever changing world, we need to have balance between the two extremes. We all need to be free to make mistakes and learn from them. Just because someone used to smoke, drink, or do drugs, doesn’t mean the individual is a bad person. They needed to make those mistakes and learn from the bad choices to expand their current way of thinking. What we think is right and wrong now will change in time so we need to not sweat the small stuff, but instead look forward to what the negative events in life are teaching us and how they lead to the positive that make life worth living. When will we be able to be content with a past that we all regret? Competing ideals tend to drive our economy. By problem solving, individuals are able to determine their own opinions on the competing ideals and choose based on which is most beneficial. This helps them think differently or what some might call “Out of the Box.” There are so many extremist in the world who don’t recognize others rights and beliefs. They fail to realize that each religion has similarities to each other. The golden rule can be found within every religion and states that we should treat others as we would want to be treated. Only by reflecting on how we would want to be treated in another’s situation, can we truly see them as equals and treat them with the proper respect. Through trial and errors, we have learned that we can’t force others to think the way we do. We have realized that many are in that same gray area that we are in and rationally talking about the issues cab educated both parties. Everything deserves respect. We shouldn’t think of being nice to someone we don’t know as going out of our way, but think of it as what have they ever done to us to deserve less than the respect we’d expect?
You never know who you’re going to run into later in life or the impact you have on them until its too late. Someones first impression can be effected on the time of day, mood, etc. Some think of me as someone who is late, naive, annoying, etc., but ultimately they don’t know me or what I have been through. It takes for them to understand me and my potential, “To walk a mile in my shoes,” to understand why I have become the person I am today. We have thought that old dogs cant learn new tricks so we stop trying to teach, yet we need to be patient and take time in order for them to understand. Don’t waste your life hating and discriminating against others, use that time to expand your knowledge. Instead of dwelling on the bad look forward to the lessons it teaches you. Learn to walk in the footsteps of the other person and come to an agreement. Accept people for who they are and admire what you learn for each event in your life. Things happen, you can’t change what you have done in the past, but you have the power to control what you do in the future. When life gives you harsh blows, take time to accept what has happened, then learn from it. Who cares about what happened before or whats going to happen after. Life is all about living and learning. When you get into a place of true happiness, relish in it. Stop standing between you and your own happiness. We need to make sure each and every individual on the planet has the opportunity to be live their own lives free of persecution.
We have the world at our fingertips with advances in technology and the media being heavily incorporated into our society. We’re the generation that has been able to be shaped by thousands of years worth of history and have been given the gift of being able to learn from the past mistakes of our forefathers in order build upon them. What is the point of hearing about the devastations that have impacted society, if we aren’t going to learn and grow from it? Our generation has seen the impossible happen and has recognized the significance of preserving the past in order to build a better future. The USA was founded on equality and it is the right of each citizen to pursue happiness without the fear of persecution. Same-sex marriage may never be fully accepted by society due to differing beliefs, yet discrimination against individuals in the LGBT community must cease. Only with the incorporation of friendship, cooperation, and empathy, can greatness be achieved. Accept diversity because everything is abnormal. Without chaos, order cannot exist. The greatest people are those who overcome diversity and are able to teach future generation how to interpret the many stances brought forth by the media. A single individual can have a major impact on society and finding the balance between the extremes allows for peace to prosper. I choose to see the silver-lining of a bad situation and understand that only with a strong sense of balance can the world learn and grow. Each individual has their own beliefs and that is what makes this world beautifully diverse.
This song “You Know You Like It” can be seen as a representation on modern views as we break away from the past and embrace the future. “I’m no fool, no, I’m not a follower, I don’t take things as they come, if they bring me down. Life can be cruel, if you’re a dreamer. I just want to have fun, don’t tell me what can’t be done.”
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