This idea started in the UK where people left flyers on the stairs of mosques. The flyer proposes “points” to anyone who hurts a Muslim, whether it is verbal or physical harm. The more harm inflicted, the more points received. Unfortunately, this idea spread to the US as well.

This country used to be known for its beautiful diversity. People from all corners of the world would immigrate to the US. Religion was never a factor that prevented someone from moving here. One of the freest countries in the world where people dreamed of living in. This country was built upon the principle of religious freedom. It is in the roots of this country’s history from the 1620s when the Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower to escape religious persecution. It is in the first amendment. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are explicitly written out in the US Declaration of Independence. But when I see articles circulating the internet about “Punish a Muslim Day,” America is not the country that I grew up believing in.

Although this country was formed on the aforementioned principles, America has never been fully accepting of its immigrants. This can be seen throughout various examples in history. However, recently this issue has become more prevalent. In these past few years, America has become increasingly less tolerant of its diversity. The proof for this lies in the flyers of “Punish a Muslim Day.” This increased intolerance causes people to hide in fear of getting punished rather than freely practicing their religion and expressing their religious beliefs. Their liberty and happiness are compromised because of the uneducated and biased actions of some. Nobody should live in fear because of their religion, no matter if the person is Christian, Hindu, Jewish, or Muslim.

This past summer one of my close friends was traveling to Spain. At the security line as my brown-skinned friend was collecting her handbag and shoes, she overheard a roughly 8-year-old boy freaking out about his bag getting checked by a security officer. He then points at my friend and comments “but mom, I’m not a terrorist! I don’t look like her.” His mother makes no apology to my friend, says nothing to her son, and simply walks away holding her son’s hand.

If this is what America’s future looks like, then I want no part of it.

We are not born knowing what Muslim or Christian or Hindu or Jewish is. We are not born knowing the difference between a brown person, a black person and a white person. We learn the difference. Society feeds us the differences. Parents and colleagues feed it to us.

We make up society and we are the people that can change society. We can end this vicious cycle of bigotry by taking matters into our own hands. Stand up for people, share your opinions and educate people.We are responsible for the change. Change begins with us.