Personally, I was raised in a middle-class, Catholic household (how could I possibly have mental issues!?). From a very early age I was taught many Catholic values, and the most important value I still hold is how I treat other people. Though I was occasionally exposed to violence in the media, I have never been a violent person and I have never made a plan to hurt myself or others. I attended a Jesuit high school, and one of the ways we describe ourselves is “men for others.” I use the present tense because this has not changed. It is a value my parents taught me, and they sent me to a Catholic school to make sure it stuck. There are other ways to teach on this value, however this was the route they chose for me. When we say “men for others,” that is not to say we need to sacrifice our own personal gain and advancement for other people. Endorsed by Christians as “The Golden Rule,” treating others as we want to be treated is the best way to help others and ourselves. You do not have to be a Christian, or even a religious person to follow this. If we cannot afford to give to the needy, we should still treat them with respect, dignity and provide help in one way or the other. Truly treating each other like we are all equal is the only way to prevent the Newtown tragedy from repeating itself. We need to unite as a country to stand up to this, and not through legislation. Minorities, women, and gays have almost reached legal equality to white men who for so long have held power in this country. Legal equality does not mean social equality. These demographics still face many challenges.

            Equality and happiness has a way of spreading itself. Unfortunately, inequality and disrespect also have a way of spreading themselves, slowing the progress towards true equality that so many have fought and died for.  Humans evolved and formed society to help each other because it was in everyone’s best interest, not just one person. However, people are inherently selfish; it is in our DNA. All it takes is one person out of the entire to give in to their selfish tendencies and ruin what we have evolved for millions of years to produce. As cliché as it may seem, we truly are only as strong as our weakest link. If one person breaks away from the best interest of the group, others see this and decide to work for their own best interest as well. This is why it is necessary for us to have authority and why there is government today. Government was created by those who were truly interested in the best interest of others. In ancient and medieval times, human selfishness by those in power is what led to monarchies and other types of government with an all-powerful ruler. Ever since, society has tried various types of government. In the United States, new laws are being put in place at various levels of government on a seemingly daily basis. Clearly, we have not figured it out. Written laws are just that—written. It is going to take something more than words on paper to wake us up.

            If we want to have true equality, we need to stop taking advantage of each other. The famous Stanford Prison Experiment is a perfect example of “the power of the situation.” When presented with temptation, we will give in eventually. This temptation to take advantage of someone else and show that we are superior to one another is the evil in this world. The smallest of crimes against one another can have a ripple effect leading to tragic results. Person A steals from Person B. Person B murders Person A for revenge. It escalates into a feud between the families of Persons A and B, and more people are murdered. Other people see this violence; use it to solve their problems. This becomes a problem throughout history. Columbine happens—a feud between the outcasts and their bullies.

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