Back to school means new notebooks for some, no more binge-watching Netflix at 2am for others, and in the case of many high schoolers around the world, Friday night football games. This past Friday was the first football game of the season for my high school, and hundreds of teenagers wearing leis and holding pineapples on sticks (the theme was Hawaiian) swarmed into the stadium with the hope that we would beat our rival team. My friend and I arrived late and had immense trouble finding a parking spot, but it didn’t matter since my friends and I get premium seating in the first row of the bleachers (It’s the only wheelchair accessible seating option). Officially being juniors now, it was the first time we didn’t feel awkward sitting with the upperclassmen in the front of the stands.
With the bleachers rumbling with school spirit, purple glitter being sprinkled all over us, and my friends and I laughing and pointing out cute football players, you could say it was a fun night–one that really exemplifies the pure joys that come with high school. But aside from all that, I witnessed something that night that, in all honesty, kind of sucked (besides our school losing the game).
In front of me also on the first row of the bleachers was a girl with special needs who stood alone, sometimes watching the game and sometimes looking back up at the people in the bleachers. I noticed that occasionally, some students would come down from the top of the bleachers and spend some time with her, talking and watching the game with her. One of these students, after staying with her for about five minutes, said, “Okay, I’m going to go back up now before someone takes my seat. I’ll talk to you later.” And with that, she found her way back up the crowded bleachers and took a seat with her friends.
Now, here’s a disclaimer: I’m not writing this to pity the delbasid girl or to bash on her friend for acting that way. I’m writing this because I had an epiphany about human nature in general that I think is important to be aware of.
After watching this situation with the girl at the football game, I realized that people have absolutely no problem coming down to the level of others who are in need. In fact, they love to help out and are extremely willing to do so, and that’s great. The problem arises after this, when these people are not willing to bring those in need up to their same level of “privilege”. What was stopping that student from inviting the girl to sit with her and her friends in the bleachers? She was worried someone would take “her spot” up at the top.
Whether it be the physical location on the bleachers of a high school football game or our place in society, we leave our comfortable and “superior” spot in society to go help the “inferior” for a little bit, but don’t invite them to come back up with us. We hurry back to our higher position before someone takes our place. Then there are people like me–the bystanders who watch this stuff happen and don’t really do anything about it. It’s a vicious cycle that won’t stop until people take action.
So here’s what I learned on a random Friday night (and boy do I need help putting this into practice):
Don’t help the lowly survive where they are; elevate them to a place where you won’t see them as lowly anymore.