When I was created, God thought it appropriate to provide me with his greatest creation: the human mind. With this gift, I have come to make my own ideals, morals, and virtues in the only logical way a person should. My life has been, as every life is, an interconnected web of events that each inevitably led to the next. Every moment of my life before now has defined what I am and how I think today, and how I will tomorrow. I like to explain my beginning with separate parts.
Part one: the catholic school era – The first four years of my schooling were spent at a New Albany Catholic school. It was there where I first started my higher level education and learned to shape my morals. Through my religion, I learned that it was wrong to lie and to steal, and what was considered virtuous and all the other Sunday morning, Disney channel virtues that are taught to almost every child. At this school I also had my first encounter with something that was understood by everyone except me. We went to confession about twice a week there, and I remember one confession in particular. I approached the priest and he asked me what I was sorry for. I told him, thinking I had accomplished something, that I had nothing to be sorry for this time, which I had gone the whole week without lying, steeling, or talking back to any elders, especially my parents. To my surprise, he told me to be sorry anyway: there is always something to be sorry for. I was obedient, and I prayed on my Rosary afterwards, but I wondered at the same time why. I wondered why I was supposed to repent for doing nothing wrong. They said it was because we were imperfect, and we could never be perfect.
To this day, this rubs me the wrong way. I could not understand why I could not be perfect, why I could not strive for perfection. I will repent when I have done wrong, I will admit to being imperfect, but when I accomplish something why can I not say I am perfect? When I create the perfect White Chocolate and Vanilla Iceberg at Hobknobb, why can I not say I am perfect in that moment? I found it very hard to strive for success when always in the back of my mind I knew I was imperfect, and could never be imperfect.
Part two: the public school era – Starting in the fourth grade, I attended a couple different public schools in Floyd County. It was here that under a teacher at Greenville Elementary named Mrs. Donna Emly, I first took my education seriously. She saw something that teachers had never seen before (or if they had, they did nothing to encourage it.) She saw potential. She pushed me more than I have ever been pushed, and gave me a work ethic that I have kept up to this day. She is the first and the primary reason I am in newspaper today, since she was the first to see the writer in me.
Part three: the atheist era – in junior high, I lost my faith. I thought I was scientific and smart. I thought it was what the cutting edge person was doing. To me, a person who believed in God was aggressively ignorant and had no understanding of science and logic. I spent long hours contemplating existence and creationism, and the improbable circumstances of the “Bible” and its stories. This was obviously the time when I got myself into the most trouble. My language got worse; I was cussing a lot. I lied without reason since I knew there were no repercussions. I never did anything like as bad as steal or picking on other people for no reason, but it was no question my morals were significantly off.
Part four: Freshman year – By far the most significant year in my life, my freshman year brought me many changes. Most importantly I renewed my faith. After losing a family member, I started to think about the choices I had made. I needed a religion in that moment, and I have kept it ever since.
High school also brought along the usual changes most kids go through at that age. I found a new group of friends; a couple have remained my best friends to this day. To me, they are closer than a brother ever could be. Through them I have learned the importance of not trying love everyone: to be friends with everyone. Though I do love meeting new people and I can talk to anyone for hours, I will never love anyone as much as I love the people I have chosen to label as friends. To me, the more people I call friends, the less valuable they become.
I also met several new teachers, who without them I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today. Though all of them have remained close companions to this day (and yes, a couple I call friends), One in particular has had the most impact on how I view my high school career, and some aspects of my life as well. He was the first teacher who said to me grades aren’t what matters in high school. He said what really matters is what you learn there. Though it seems like it should be obvious to everyone, this was a totally new idea to me. I went in to high school preparing to take easier classes and get a high GPA, but after his class I changed my mind completely. When this year is over, I will have taken 6 AP or duel credit classes. If not for him, I would have a the GPA to get in to any college I want, but I would not know have the things I know today.
So at the end of this column, I know you are wondering why I wrote this. You are wondering how this should apply to you, or anything at all. This is just an introduction, a basic outline of the things I believe in. Hidden in the words above are ideals, some new and some old, that I have come to create for myself through my life. This is what is important. Not the ideals themselves, but how I came to them. I came to them through life experiences and, more importantly, logic.
A religion is important: it gives you a basis for morals at the beginning of your life, but it is not what morals should be based on later in life. Friends are important; they share similar thoughts and beliefs to you, but they are not what you should base your beliefs on. You are wondering, if morals are not based on religion, and not on your surroundings, then what should they be based on?
The gift God gave me he also gave to you. The human mind, though it has been corrupt in several instances, has created the most significant things on this earth. It created bridges and tunnels through the mountains that were too tall and rugged for us to pass through. It created boats and ships for the oceans that are too wide and wet for us to pass through. It has created medicines and vaccines for the diseases that end some lives too early. It created languages, mathematics, the arts, love, and everything that is meaningful. If it can create all those, why can it not create its own code of morals and ethics? After you are educated through high school, (not working for a GPA) your mind is prepared to rationally take instances from life and deduct them reasonably. My morals are not the code of a religion, or the code of another man. My morals and virtues are a code set by me, and it is up to me to live up to these virtues I have set for myself.