Looking through a different lens

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I had a wakeup call this summer — not everyone thinks as I do.

I know it is hard to imagine but we live in a bubble called Oak Park and, perhaps, we are all similarly-minded. But, venturing out of the bubble can bring light to the truths about how we view our lives in Oak Park.

I had the opportunity to truly pop my Oak Park bubble and travel throughout the Southern states. The experience was eye-opening. Many of us see the South through the eyes of the media and through the eyes of our parents. The South is often shown as backward and rural. But, this misconception is not entirely true.

In the South, for many, every Sunday morning is dedicated to church. The lessons that are taught at home are based on faith and the lessons of the Bible which are then translated to the everyday lessons young kids learn. The older generations were closer to the church than the generations today. Thus, for many Southerners, their lives are based on the church and their core values which guide them come directly from religion. Their views are not backward — rather they’re firm in the form of the values they pass on.

I realized that the youth have a different world view than that of the older generations. Often, the media stereotypes the entire South to have certain views or lifestyles instead of breaking it down. The teens from the South who have had time to think for themselves, look at the world in a more liberal view and are more open to changes where, perhaps, the older generation is interested in keeping the status quo. It is not safe to say that all Southern states are red, because the youth are going to start changing that — but the movies do not tell us that.

It is hard to unsee what has already been ingrained into our beliefs. However, it is important not to believe the stereotypes that are disseminated throughout society because they are typically false — as not all people fill those shoes. Sure, there is a part of the population that plays to the tune of the stereotype. But not everyone.

My advice? Travel. Challenge stereotypes. It is necessary to pop Oak Park’s restraining bubble.