Being a Buddhist,
and living in a "Western" civilization, I go through a lot of discrimination,
When I was young, I brought
my prayer beads to school. No one knew what they were, not even my teacher!
I was very upset. That was probably my first experience. But, it certainly
was not my last.
As I grew older, kids in my
classes used to always make fun of me. Or they would ask me stupid questions
hoping to demean my religious views.
"Do you float? Do you know
anyone who floats?" — this was a very common question that kids would ask.
What was I supposed to say?
"Yes, I float. I also fly around on my broomstick on most Saturday nights!"
Now, misconceptions were only
one of my problems. When I started to get a little older, the kids just
decided to just be mean straight to my face.
"You're gonna go to HELL! What
do you mean you don't believe in God? Do you worship the devil? My mom
says that you're gonna go to HELL!"
What a thing for a child of
9 or 10 to hear! Not only are my peers making fun of me, but now parents
are telling their kids that I am damned!
Now that I look back on those
years and those kids, I thank them for what they did. I am a MUCH stronger
person now. Although it's easy to say that because I don't hang around
with them. Even though they made me stronger, I still remember the years
of tormenting, and I wonder, "Why do those kids think that? Why didn't
their parents teach them love and understanding? In Christian churches,
do they just tell the kids to hate everyone that's not of their religion?"
I learned the answers to those
questions while I was in middle school. Seventh grade was "my year of understanding."
Now, instead of kids hearing that I wasn't Christian and then immediately
assuming a whole bunch of things that weren't true, kids asked me real
questions! I was so excited.
I asked them about their religion.
They asked me about mine. It was great!
One girl (I don't remember
her name) did a Hyper Studio stack about Japan, and ended up getting a
lot of information about Buddhism. So, when I told her that I was Buddhist,
she was intrigued.
She asked me real questions
like, "Is there a 'temple' or church in Omaha? How do you pray? Is Buddha
your God, or just the founder or what?"
It was so nice to have questions
that I could actually answer instead of false accusations and stupid, demeaning
Now that I'm in high school,
I know that all of the torture I was put through helped me. I learned that
society isn't always right. Those kids didn't know or care about me, my
religion, or my feelings. They just went along with the stereotypes, and
the views of the majority. I also learned to "put [myself] in others' shoes."
If those kids would've done that for even a second, they could have learned
And, lastly, I learned that
life and people are rarely ever fair. If life were fair all the time, I
would never have been hurt so much. Or those kids would've been made fun
of, too. But, they never were.
I wonder now about those kids.
I wonder if they even remember the torture and torment they put me through.
I wonder if they know how it feels to always be the one that people point
their fingers at. I wonder if they know how it feels to be constantly laughed
at. But, I mostly wonder if they know what it feels like to be "damned