April 16, 2007 in Features

Contest winner writes about toll of intolerance

Katie Rolli University High School

To our readers: As part of this year’s Yom HaShoah observance, marking the international day of remembrance of the Holocaust, Temple Beth Shalom sponsored a high school writing contest around the theme “Never Again.”

Contestants were asked to address instances of genocide ranging from the Nazi extermination of Jews in World War II to ethnic genocide in places such as Rwanda, Bosnia and Sudan.

The winning entry, a poem by University High School freshman Katie Rolli, was read at Yom HaShoah ceremonies Sunday night and is reprinted here.

Never Again

Here we are it’s the same old thing again

Going back to where we said we’d never go again

Living the lies and pretending it’s OK

When we deeply hurt people with the things that we say

Judging too quickly without a second glance

Assuming their life’s story before giving them a chance

Stereotypes and cliques can come naturally to us

But thinking long term, just look what it does

Some kids decide that they’ve had enough

They give up on life because it’s too tough

What if there’d been a reliable someone?

What if they had friends that were rooting for them?

They begin to hate life and go downhill instead

Crying every night in the dark on their bed

Isn’t there anyone out there to save?

Or is it not popular for people to be brave?

If one single person had just stepped out

If they had left behind popularity and doubt

Then maybe, just maybe they would’ve taken the time

To say hello to an outsider, to cross a line

However there are those of us with many friends

People who fit in with the present trends

We’d rather stay in our comfort zone

Than be thought weird and be disowned

Too fearful are we for our own skin

So we won’t even try to save a life and win

What has happened to our complacent generation?

When in all reality we’re a desperate nation

Somehow though we’ve been held back

Friendliness to the freaks is something we lack

And since smiling at nerds is something we never did

One more is lost to the sound of the coffin lid

Again and again I wonder just how

No one can ever seem to seize the now

After all the lives it has cost

You’d think we’d learn from everything we’ve lost

When you look at someone and just keep moving on

Automatically forgetting the pro’s and only seeing the con

You begin to limit what life has in store

We have only ourselves to blame for all the closed doors

If we wouldn’t judge before

There’d be a lot less people ignored

It has become the most terrible tragedy

When insulting others is an entertaining strategy

All these people just need someone on whom they can depend

Why can’t we give a little of our time to just be their friend?

If every high school kid

Made smiling something they regularly did

Then I know for a fact

Many teens wouldn’t give up or go back

Suicide levels would be at an all time low

Dynamic friendships would most certainly grow

School shootings would only be a myth

Racial discrimination would no longer be such a rift

Think of everything we could achieve

It’s unimaginable to believe

Maybe if I could walk a mile in their shoes

Honestly, what do I really have to lose?

If I could just love them the way they are

Then perhaps a dear friendship wouldn’t be far

Especially if you feel you can’t make a difference at all

Think of how it’d be if you just prevented their fall

Even if the task seems impossible to do

Just remember that “Never Again” can be possible for you.

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