My senior year was supposed to be the "best" year yet. I anticipated being "cool" and having younger students look up to me. Now 23-years-old, however, I look back on my senior year in high school and the thing I remember most vividly wasn't being "cool" or having underclassmen admirers. The day I remember is September 11, 2001, and it taught me a lesson I'll forever carry with me.
I was in government class. I remember the sound of the bell and all the students scattering to class. I was new to the school and had just moved to upstate New York. I walked into class and saw the two buildings collapse on the television screen. The students were left in shock and the teacher was almost in tears. I huddled in my little corner, collapsed on my desk, and began to shed tears. I felt the pain of every person in that classroom and those whom had lost someone in those buildings.
The reporter on television had stated that those responsible for the incident were Islamic extremists. I remember those words echoing through my ears. My palms had become sweaty and my knees weak. Fellow students had begun to shout that Muslims should die, and that their place in this world is useless. The teacher had raved about how they had believed in evil things and their only desire was to hurt people. My eyes watched those around me. My pupils dilated with each rant and rave. I knew this was all untrue; because I am Muslim and I was none of those things.
I tell this story neither for sympathy nor to bring shame upon anyone. I tell this story to promote one word; tolerance. September 11, 2001 was a day in which the whole world suffered. We all lost something or someone on that day. September 11, however, is not a day to criticize human beings or to cause a riot against a whole religion. Instead, it is a day of renewed hope to restore something that we had all lost. It is a day to rebuild ourselves and commemorate those whom mean most to us. It is a lesson to us all to endure one another's struggle, pain and to cling to each other when our strength is being tested. Difference should be a celebrated throughout the world. I had learned that specific day that every person in this world is entitled to his or her own opinion.
I challenge you to step outside your box and view the world in someone else's shoes. Honor those who are willing to change the world for the better. Build your own views by listening to the views of others. Most of all, remember that everyone was created with a different kind of potential that can possibly change you, and even more so, the world.
Submitted by Anonymous