December 2002
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Teens and Religion
By Mahmoud H., Grade 12, Fredericton High School, Fredericton, NB

In the twenty-first century, religion is criticized more than ever. Teenagers are faced with the challenge of balancing societal, religious and traditional expectations.

The world has become a global village and people must learn how to be more than tolerant of others' beliefs. Today it is important to actively understand and relate to different ideas. The age of specialization is now over, and it is now considered "educated" for a person to have a broad scope on the world.

Although Fredericton High School celebrates all religions, it is clear Christmas transcends everything. For example: while Muslim teens are fasting, the Youth for Christ gives out yummy cookies and the cafeteria serves a super Christmas dinner. Christmas decorations are displayed, and Christmas concerts abound. Although these events are wonderful because they enhance school spirit, they stifle other beliefs, and they force teens into a tight corner. Either you are doing what everyone else does, or you are totally excluded.

The media blankets all values, ideologies and religions. They paint a picture that makes everyone look the same and feel the same way. School should be the one place where people can escape the Christmas media blitz. It is a place where we should learn about diversity. If teens are given the knowledge then they will be able to go out into the world and decide which path suits them best. The school environment should be diverse, not narrow. It is important not to solely focus on what the majority of people believe at a given time.

If we are looking forward to living together in peace, then now, more than ever, teens need to have a balanced outlook on their neighbour's religion. It is important to focus on similarities rather than differences.


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