By Lisa Banti, EEB1, S5ENA

Every choice, decision, judgment, sentence, commitment or conclusion is controversial to someone, to a certain degree. Let’s say for example, you are brushing your teeth and end up not brushing your tongue. Many people I know wouldn’t approve; they’d explain a number of health related reasons as to why you should brush your teeth. While another number of people would find this useless and a waste of time because they haven’t contrived any consequences to their health by not brushing their teeth. Yet another handful of people would just brush it off and pay no attention to the argument whatsoever.

Some subjects are more controversial than others. Right in this moment, some of the biggest issues subjected to controversial argumentations are the presidential elections of 2020, legal rights for abortion, the lgbtq+ community, religious freedom, immigration and many more. Change is bound to be controversial; it’s often subject of public argument, disagreement, or disapproval.

The absolute most controversial thing that has happened repeatedly at my school is the use and dealing of drugs. Imagine being on your way to class and seeing two students casually handshake, as you pass by, you see one of the students passing a dimebag to the other student while they walk in opposite directions down the corridor.

You have different options, whichever you choose will guide you down a separate road from the others, leading to various courses of action, all with distinct consequences. The choice depends not only on how you’ve been brought up to think about drugs, probably that they are harmful and addictive; but it also depends on who you hang out with everyday; what, who, where and how you are influenced. Many will argue that once you’ve made a decision you’re either the bad guy or the good guy in a situation; but I believe that every person perceives your choice differently, they think of the concept differently, because some people might share the same opinion as you or they might have a completely independent one, that is not related to a good or bad opinion of you. You’re actions will definitely have a greater impact on the lives of those who are responsible for dealing.

Let’s say you feel alarmed at what you saw and feel as though you intruded in something you wish you hadn’t, and you are both, equally worried and angry with those students. Worried for their wellbeing, and angry at how condescending and inconsiderate they are of those around them; for violating simple community guidelines, which strictly state that no sort of substance abuse will be tolerated, and for endangering other pupils.

While observing the exchange you catch a glimpse of the face behind the hoodie. You are unsure of what to do, so you decide to tell your friends and ask them for advice. They tell you not to waste time on the matter and to move on, saying that addressing this to the school council will make of you a “snitch” and a target for possible bullying or worse.

However you decide, regardless of their opinion, to work up the courage to go to the conseillier and deposit an anonymous letter stating what happened with names included in their letterbox. As soon as you violate the code of the street all drug dealer cliques and their clientele instantly despise you. The code of the street is a set of informal rules that govern interpersonal relations in neighbourhoods, or in this case, school. ‘Snitching’ is considered one of the highest offences one can possibly execute; snitching is rampant.

On an individual level, adolescents have a various motive for engaging in violent behaviour, including gaining respect and honour. Many students at my school are cultured with the street etiquette to survive the, at times, menacing school atmosphere.

So there you are, facing the wrath of the crowds because you did what you thought was right in your eyes.  It takes a person with a great deal of courage to decide to take the high way instead of the easy way. Now that you’ve made your choice and the dealers are facing charges you will be considered a hero to many, but a villain to many more.

There are many other ways in which the situation could have gone down. You decide to keep to yourself, and by doing so enter in the good graces of the dealers who appreciate you keeping their secret. In this scenario, since rumours spread like wildfire within hormone-fuelled teenage gossip, everyone will know that you know. Then again, you are creating allies who share the secret too, and enemies who don’t like how things are being run.

As this happened to me, my choice was too keep to myself. Not mingling with either of the two crowds, allies or enemies alike. I remained tucked away in my little bubble of indifference without thinking about it twice. The worst kind of person is the one who stands by and does nothing. I remember the instant regret I felt for not saying anything when I found out my best friend had been using drugs. By the time I found out it was too late to remedy the damage she had done to herself. She had to be sent off to a rehabilitation clinic in another country for a while, and I haven’t heard from her since.

Hope fully she’s doing better, but now I can’t think of her without reminding myself of my errors too. I blamed myself, not for not knowing when it started, but for not putting a stop to it all by confessing to what I had witnessed to someone who could have something about it.

No matter the choice, there will always be repercussions both good and bad, but you have to think about those repercussions before making any kind of choice. Think outside of yourself, don’t make it about you; make it about the people you care about, the ones whom you can help mend to their troubles. So, no matter the choice you make, own up to it and learn from your mistakes.

One thought on “Controversiality

  1. Dramatizes the issue too much in my personal opinion and presents it as a very “good vs bad” style scenario whilst the whole situation presented here is alot more nuanced, however raises some interesting points. Overall an interesting opinion piece, I would be interested in discussing the points raised here.

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