I believe that a valuable lesson can be learned from everyone with whom I come into contact. Because each person is an individual with unique opinions and experiences, everyone has a different insight to share that can help others. A diverse and varied community of people contains many fresh lessons waiting to be discovered. However, since many new insights come from people who are different from ourselves, we as humans will often spurn opportunities to glean knowledge from those with whom we are unfamiliar. Often, we judge others before we allow ourselves to understand or know them. Condemning others based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other factor is not only cruel and hurtful, but it also limits opportunities to learn new things about others and ourselves through these people.
Being curious about different people instead of being critical of them broadens, instead of narrows, possibilities. By listening to and learning from others, one can glean knowledge or a new perspective that can aid in a future circumstance that cannot be foreseen. For instance, befriending a Chinese student in college could help a person to gain a better understanding of Chinese culture and attitudes, which could prove useful when he eventually attempts to adopt a child from China. Learning from different people also offers the opportunity to apply a new-found attitude to one’s own life in order to become a better person. Curiosity can not only improve life by providing knowledge for the future and for self-improvement but also lead to new friendships. Accepting a person who is different and getting to know him can reveal more similarities with ourselves than we thought existed.
I hope to remain curious and not judgmental throughout my life and to become more curious as I mature. Realizing that many opportunities for me to learn about others who are different from me will arise within the next four years of my life, I plan to listen to and befriend others who will teach me new things, expand my views, and be good friends. Following Whitman’s advice to "Be curious, not judgmental" will hopefully lead me to cultivate many friendships and to discover new truths about myself and the people around me.