When assigned to write a letter to the President of the United States, in scarcely a heartbeat I knew what I would be writing about: homosexual marriage. My class was barely being introduced to the format of the letter when I was forming sentences in my mind concerning this issue, conjuring up the most powerful words in my vocabulary, and scratching out brief notes on my paper so as not to forget to do research. I was wholly inside my own mind as the class was throwing out possible topics for the assignment; thankfully, one voice brought me crashing back down into my seat. The subject of stem-cell research, and it’s need to be more widely funded, was introduced.
Every previous thought I had crafted about what my letter would turn out to be was completely annihilated. I do not believe my mind has been more set on doing something well than it was right then. I have always had a particularly heated passion for the subject of abortion and other closely related topics. Unknowingly, this person had started a fire in me; I was absolutely itching to stand behind the classroom podium and defend those who cannot defend themselves.
It took three hours total before I was happy with the final product of my letter. Admittedly, if I had not at the same time been holding several discussions on AIM, listening to my music, and answering my phone, it may have not taken such a length of time. (Yes, I’m a fifteen-year old girl.) However, I took care that my soul was poured into this paper. I purposefully put my heart on my sleeve, and the passion I had while writing, at least I feel, is evident within it.
I was burning alive to read the letter to the class, particularly since I was not the only person to write concerning the topic of stem-cell research (interestingly, I was the only one to write against it). I do not become nervous when speaking to groups of people. However, having to read my own words, especially words that were so near and dear to my heart, left a lump in my throat and the need to take a deep breath along with a small pep talk inside my head before I commenced. I desired more than ever to pull those around me out of the drowsy stupor most students live in while attending school and make them listen. Thankfully, every shaky word I feared I would expel was completely absorbed in the fervor I had for getting my message across to the class and hopefully striking a chord that these previously indoctrinated minds would remember.
I cannot say that I was not desperately upset when I received no credit for my paper. I was confused, to put it mildly. I wore the facade that I was handling this with a straight back quite well until I was given a quiet moment to myself and I could finally hold it up no more. I confess that in 6th hour I slipped into a silent reverie, tears pricking at my eyes. What did I do wrong? Perhaps I did the assignment wrong. Maybe it was me…maybe I wrote a terrible paper…but no, I checked and re-checked my letter. I read it again and again. I checked my sources. Why was my letter worth zero?
After a few meetings with administration, I found out that my error was in expending too much effort. There was too much work and too much thought put into this assignment. This is not a sophomore level paper and hence, it deserves no credit. I should rewrite my letter (for 75% credit) with only my opinion. I should strip it and leave it simply at “this is what I believe” minus “and this is why.” Because obviously, dear teenager, you live in a time when you need not substantiate anything you believe, so please, take full advantage.
It did not take any extra thought to leave the proposal on the table that I write lesser of a letter for less credit. Eventually, I was offered a chance to rewrite my letter for full credit. With my 4.0 in jeopardy, I bounced one thought around in my head: how many ways can I say “no”?
At this point, I sincerely hope you wonder where my heart is. Am I simply being stubborn? Stubborn, perhaps; but it has not been simple. Do I like confrontation? Let me be the first to assure you that I do not. My refusal to rewrite this letter is simply because I cannot. Asking me to rewrite this letter, a letter that is so controversial in its very nature whether or not I back up my statements, is asking me to change my entire world-view. It is never okay to have an opinion without reason, and I refuse to do so simply for a grade. If I am going to write so passionately on a subject, I certainly would hope that my word would not so easily be taken and swallowed just because I believe it to be true. I am not so high as to believe that my word is truth based solely on the fact that I wish it to be true. I am a fallible creature. Would you not want me to give reasons for my beliefs?
I suppose I have acquired a few valuable lessons during the course of this situation. Besides the way modern America thinks is absolutely insane; it is no longer important to add reason to thought. Throw it out the window, ladies and gents, because whatever you want to be true is true.
As for me, I will not budge; perhaps I will take a beating for it. Well then, it is my honor. I would encourage anyone who may be put in my position to keep your chin level with the ground. The break in the bend comes from not having the courage to say “here I stand, I can do no other.” A simple statement, yes, but a powerful one. It is my prayer that I do not speak only for myself when I say I prefer my grade to be in jeopardy over my faith.
We are the dangerous minds of America. We are the vulnerable, and we hold the future. I would absolutely love to be the most dangerous by challenging the core of backward thinking. I desire to contend for the faith, and always be ready to answer everyone who asks me about the hope that I have.