For the past couple of days I’ve experienced things that I couldn’t anywhere else. I always considered myself a very cultured person, and that’s been taken to another level over the past week. Although I loved to learn about other cultures, religions, and perspectives, I’ve recently been able to live them. I walked into a synagogue and placed a yarmulke on my head, trying to mouth the words to a Hebrew hymn.  Then smirked out if uncomfortably while motioning a prayer that I did not understand, amongst a people that I did not know in the Park 51 mosque. During both experiences I had some internal unrest, despite my open mind, my core values were obviously sensitive to something I had never done or thought of doing before. I hesitantly walked into a gas chamber, and in silence I listened to the tears shed for those who didn’t get to walk out about seventy years ago. I lived a joyous song of praise at a Shabbat service, and the calming serenity of a Muslim prayer, the horror of a Holocaust victim and the pain of their descendants. All these experiences I cherish and know I would regret not taking part in them. However, there’s one that I would want to take back, and that’s when I had to live through my own horror. Upon learning that a life much like my own was killed and condoned, I felt actual anger, and fear and disappointment. The most unpleasant part of it all was that I wasn’t feeling someone else’s pain or dismay, it was my own. What I was feeling were emotions that belonged to me, and though I didn’t want to, I cannot regret feeling them. Without feelings, there is nothing to determine man from beasts.

Emmanuel Olanweraju OU ’13, Mastery Charter School ’14

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