2018 STOP HATE ESSAY CONTEST WINNER, TYLER JACKLITSCH,
MONROE WOODBURY HIGH SCHOOL
Let's Make the Right Choice
At an early age, we are taught morals. Our parents lay the foundation for us to become ethical, responsible beings, with the hopes that one day if we see something wrong we will say something. For some people, it's easy to say something without the fear of being judged, but for others it's not that simple. As teenagers, we feel that we are always being judged by the world around us. We do not want to stand out. It is easier to blend in with the crowd. It is hard to stand up ... to make the right choice.
I love hockey. I love the camaraderie of a team. Most of the time, everyone gets along. Unfortunately, my current team has a bully. Being a younger player and not as skilled as the better players, I am constantly thinking about what I can do to stay out of the bully's focus. We are nervous at practice and games, because we are always wondering if today will be our day ... who will get called out and ridiculed today. One day, as our team was changing into our uniforms, one of the better players offered a spot on the locker room bench to a quiet teammate. The kid accepted the offer, changed and left as quickly as he could. When he left, the better player laughed and announced he was putting the teammate's bag in the shower and turning the water on. Everything I learned about doing the right thing flashed through my mind. Yet, I sat there, debating whether to say something, whether to make myself a target, whether to expose myself. The whole team sat there looking at each other and looking away. It felt like an eternity, but it was no more than 10 seconds. Finally, I stammered, "Hey, that's not right." Everyone stared at me. My face was flushed and my heart was pounding. Then, my other teammates started agreeing with me. After a tense silence, the player put the bag down, clearly irritated by everyone, and said, "It was just a joke. I can't believe you guys would think I would do that." I felt an immense sense of relief wash over me that I was not getting thrown into the shower. I looked around and saw the same sense of relief and pride in my teammates that I felt. We stood up to a bully and prevented something wrong from occurring.
My decision to speak up doesn't change the world. However, if everyone makes the choice to speak up when something is wrong, we can make a difference in the world. Elie Wiesel said, "Let us not forget, after all, that there is always a moment when the moral choice is made. Often because of one story or one book or one person, we are able to make a different choice, a choice for humanity, for life." All it took was my four words to change the outcome of a bad situation.