College Essay Prompt: When you meet someone for the first time, what do you want them to know about you, but generally don’t tell them?
There is no getting around it—I am Asian. I have indeed grown up with Tiger parents who have always “encouraged” me to practice the piano, solve mathematical equations, and become a doctor by the age of fourteen. What I wish people knew about me is that I do not always take things or myself so seriously.
I still have ambition and strive to achieve but I just don’t beat myself up when things don’t go my way. I don’t need to be the best or the brightest. As long as I can enjoy myself, learn something along the way and do the best I can, that’s all I care about.
While others stress and obsess about their futures, I am going to enjoy today…maybe go out to dinner with friends, play videogames, and above all have a nice laugh.
Evidence-based writing from high school:
When one hears the word destruction, he or she normally associates this notion with physical weapons, such as nuclear bombs or guns. However, Rod Serling, renowned US actor, producer, and screenwriter extends the scope of means that can cause mayhem. In fact, he once said that, “The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices — to be found in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own — for the children and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.” In other words, Serling essentially states that accusations driven by prejudices and fear have the potential to harm everyone. This statement is shown to be true by the prevalent accusations of witchcraft in the play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, the rampant claims of others as being communist sympathizers during the era of McCarthyism in the 20th century, and the heinous persecution of three boys collectively referred to as the West Memphis Three.
Throughout the play, a multitude of people from the town of Salem were accused of practicing witchcraft due to underlying fears and prejudices. One example of this was when Tituba accused Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn of practicing witchcraft. Near the beginning of the play, Tituba was falsely accused of forcing Abigail and Betty to drink a mysterious concoction she brewed. Since brewing potions in that time period was commonly associated with witchcraft, it was from this basis that Abigail accused Tituba of witchcraft. Consequently, Tituba was forced to admit that she practiced witchcraft and to reveal the names of her fellow practitioners, or else she would receive the brutal punishment of a vigorous whipping. Thus, Tituba confessed to practicing witchcraft, and she also blamed Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn, two homeless people, of conspiring with the devil. Not only is the theme of scapegoating evident in this sequence of events, but it is also evident that Tituba accused Osborn and Good because she feared the prospect of being whipped. Ultimately, these accusations lead to their execution, for practicing witchcraft was a crime punishable by death. In addition to Tituba’s accusation, Abigail also claimed that Elizabeth Proctor, a high member of Salem, practiced witchcraft as well. To bolster her claims, she stabbed herself in the stomach and convinced Mary Warren, the servant of the Proctor family, to bestow upon Elizabeth a poppet with a needle stuck in the stomach. Moments after the transfer of the doll, Cheever arrests Elizabeth for possessing the doll because “’Tis hard proof!” (Miller, 75) of her practicing witchcraft. The reason behind Abigail’s cleverly formulated scheme to have Elizabeth perceived as a witch was because she despised Elizabeth Proctor for being the wife of John Proctor, whom Abigail had a liaison with, exemplifying the conflict between Abigail and Elizabeth. Thus, it is important to realize that the motive behind her accusations was due to her prejudice against Elizabeth. However, what is even more paramount is the fact that the victims of such prejudiced and fearful accusations were all from different ranks of society. This goes to show that any individual is vulnerable to accusations driven by fear and prejudice.
Similarly, a variety of people were accused of being communist during the era of the Cold War. Such claims were driven by the notion of McCarthyism, which is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty due to prejudiced fears of communism (Mid-West YCL Member, 2010). A victim of McCarthyism would be Owen Lattimore. Born in Shanghai, Lattimore’s origin allowed him to later become the United States government liaison to Chiang Kai-Shek, political leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (“Victims of McCarthyism”, 1995). However, his affiliation with Kai-Shek many people to fear him; among these people was McCarthy. In 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy openly accused him of being a communist spy (Pace, 1989). Though these unwarranted claims were later dismissed, the effects had already took place; his reputation and credibility was completely tarnished because of McCarthy’s claim. In a similar manner, Val Lorwin also faced accusations that stemmed from McCarthyism. Born in the United States, a state department employee who worked in the labor division, Lorwin was ranked 54 on the list of people who McCarthy claimed were communists. This misconception was due to the fact that that Lorwin’s friend Harold Metz, who bore prejudice against Lorwin for holding a occupation of better status (Pace, 1989), claimed that Lorwin showed him a red card and hosted a group of “strange-looking men- at his house (“Victims of McCarthyism”, 1995). However, Lorwin later confessed that the red card was for the Socialist Party, not for communism, and that these people were actually Socialists. Nevertheless, the effects of these accusations had already taken place because his reputation was tainted and his job was lost. They key difference between Lattimore and Lorwin is that they were each unique in the terms of where they were born. The impact of this is that that it shows how all individuals are susceptible to pernicious accusations driven by feelings of fear and prejudice, for these both individuals were each unique in terms of birthplace.
In a similar manner, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin, collectively known as the West Memphis Three, also faced accusations driven by fear and prejudice. In the small suburban town of Memphis, there boys were found dead. Since these three boys were last reported to be seen playing with the West Memphis Three, they were subsequently convicted on the charges of murder. These convictions were bolstered by the fact Echols and Baldwin were known for having a penchant for heavy metal rock bands, while Misskelley was known for having violent behavior— in other words, these three boys were atypical compared to the prevalent norms upheld in the small town of Memphis. These accusations were quickly placed on the children because in a time where innocent children are killed, parents would be terrified for their children (Steel, 2003). Thus, these parents quickly scapegoated those who were denounced as abnormal because they deemed that detaining these scapegoats would ease the seeds of trepidation within their hearts (Steel, 2003). These accusations ultimately were approved by court officials, and thus these three boys were sentenced to life-time imprisonments. Between the three children, there are key differences, for Misskelley was totally different than Echols and Baldwin. Miskelley, unlike the other two, was an aspiring 3D artist with acknowledgeable grades and a seemingly bright future (“West Memphis Three Facts”, Lennin). The other two, were high school drop outs who received mediocre grade reports and were thought to have a bleak future. The significance of these differences is that anyone, regardless of intelligence or diligence, can be affected by wild accusations driven by fear or prejudice.
The similarities between the accusations drawn in the play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, the era of McCarthyism, and the hysteria regarding the West Memphis Three trial are paramount. In all scenarios, such accusatory claims are impelled by two common factors: fear and prejudice. In the play, Titubau accused Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn, two homeless people, of practicing witchcraft, for she was afraid of the threat of a vigorous whipping, and Abigail accused Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft as well because was prejudiced against Elizabeth, a woman of high status, for being the wife of her romantically coveted man, John Proctor. Similarly, Owen Lattimore, born in Shanghai, was accused as a communist sympathizer because McCarthy feared his association with the Chinese Nationalist Party, and Val Lorwin, born in the United States, was framed as a communist spy because his friend, Harold Meltz, was secretly prejudiced against him for having a higher-end job. Likewise, the West Memphis Three, each an unique teenager, were presented with the same dilemmas, for members of the town Memphis recklessly convicted them on the charges of murdering three teenagers because they were easy scapegoats since they were different from the norms, and they were fearful for their children’s safety. So when a person says that thoughts and attitudes do not matter, one can undoubtedly respond with an adamant nay, for the rampant witchcraft accusations in the play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, prevalent claims of others as being communist sympathizers during the era of McCarthyism in the 20th century, and the persecution of three boys collectively known as the West Memphis Three all attest to Serling’s claim that accusations caused by fear and prejudice can affect all individuals.