Kelsie Jackson

My Community and Me

My community has influenced the person I am today in numerous ways. I went to a Catholic school for eight years where I also attended church, participated in a variety of social events, and became an active member of the parish community. I learned Catholic morals, values, and religious beliefs. I learned to honor God, respect authority, and behave ethically. Although I consider myself to be spiritual and to be a person of faith, I experienced several moments when my sense of self conflicted with the norms of my religious community.

One incident that remains with me today is the time our priest removed books from our school library. When President Barack Obama was campaigning for presidency, the priest removed fact-based books about President Obama from the school library. He believed President Obama’s political opinions and religious beliefs were contrary to Catholic teachings. I understand his motivation; however, I also believe that encouraging ignorance through information censorship is wrong. I think censorship is like putting braces on a brain. The intent is good but results in limited growth. I could not understand why my parish community just accepted our priest’s actions, although the local news clearly reflected a contrary view. My community conceded to the power of the priest, much like in Harper Lee’s "To Kill a Mockingbird" when the Maycomb refused to stand up for the wrongfully accused Tom Robinson.

My religious community influences the person I am today, but it does not dictate my character. I am responsible for the choices I make. When I travel or learn about other cultures, I gain insight on how my community attempts to sway my opinions. At times, it seems as though my community purposefully restricted my education regarding various ethnicities, cultures, and religions. As I mature, my curiosity grows. I have more resources available to me, and I develop my own opinions. I am growing-up within a community that is not as overtly racist as the Maycomb County community, but racism is still present. For example, I hear people talking about immigrants to the United States in a derogatory manner. I choose to believe that immigrants today are much like the immigrants who built our nation. They are fleeing poverty, religious persecution, and are in pursuit of a better life. They are not purposefully trying to take our jobs or diminish our way of life. In the novel, Scout grows up in a community dominated by prejudicial people. She has few positive role models. I am fortunate to have a community of positive role models and parents who encourage me to form my own opinions. My hope is to serve as a role model to others through my own ethical and moral actions.

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