Our generation will be left behind if we do not widen our understanding of the world
In Small Town, America, everyone knows what you did last summer. Everyone knows how your job is going, your relationship status, and your religious beliefs.
However, the world is a great deal bigger than Small Town, America.
As technology continues to advance and better facilitate communication between nations and ethnic groups from around the world, we as youth are being exposed to more and more of the diversity of the world from the relative safety of our living rooms. We have the capacity to meet people who have never even heard of West Bend, Wisconsin. People who have day-to-day lives very different than our own.
However, when this exposure is not coupled with an expanding knowledge and understanding of the variety of cultures and religions present in society, misconceptions about those cultures and religions may result in conflict, tensions, and intolerance.
Our school system can do something to prevent that.
Adding a religious studies course to the curriculum of the West Bend High Schools would serve to educate students on the number of different religious groups in the world today and the cultures that have fostered them. Even though it would be impossible to thoroughly explain the beliefs and practices of all religions practiced throughout the world, educating students on major religions they would not otherwise learn about will lead to more tolerant and empathetic graduating classes. An enhanced understanding would also help to eliminate stereotypes of violence and extremism, a harmful phenomenon that grips our nation.
In addition to changing the perceptions teens have of various religions, a religious studies class would help students to decide for themselves what they believe in—even if they ultimately decide that they do not believe in any form of a God or creator. A class of this nature would introduce students to different perspectives and opinions on things like the meaning of life and the possibility of a life after death so that they can better form their own opinions and beliefs. Students will have the opportunity to find their own answers to life’s big questions.
As the divide between the peoples of the world continues to shrink, our generation will be left behind, coughing on the dust of tolerance and acceptance if we do not attempt to widen our understanding of the world beyond our safe and comfortable living rooms.