So many of those teens have an amazing amount of character. They have resilience and courage that many of their peers would struggle to achieve. I've known young, discarded individuals who watched their parents die, or whose parents simply left. I've watched them endure teasing and bullying - and not only by other teens, but sometimes by adults as well - and yet they manage to keep a gentle spirit and strive to defend those less fortunate.
I have watched children and teens cope with disabilities which cause others to fear them because fearing them is easier than trying to understand them. I have listened to them speak of the hurt and pain and frustration every day life brings. And yet, when defenses are dropped, and we are able to talk about other important things in life - I find that the majority of these young folks have such beautiful souls.
They see suffering around them, and want to help. They have concerns for people in far away countries, and those in their own schools and homes. They cry when they see others being bullied and picked on, acknowledging they have walked in those very same shoes. I have known young people who are hilariously funny when they are given the freedom to be who they really are - and they are no longer masked by the shyness that accompanies a lifetime of victim-hood. I have grown to love the quirks and oddities that sometimes accompany social disorders like autism, and to realize those human beings are often participating in the world on a level deeper than the rest of us realize. They observe and absorb and contemplate and search to find the good in other human beings, and to understand this often-confusing world.
I've watched them become excited at the prospect of doing something kind for their peers, and I've seen them work hard to raise money to help out those less fortunate. I've known beautiful, amazing young people who never give pause to the physical attractiveness, abilities, or disabilities of those around them - they simply accept everyone into their presence without judgment or malice.
In a world in which most people fill every precious moment of their schedules with busy-ness and activities, it is difficult to allow time to get to know others, and particularly those who are outside our personal bubbles AND who can be quickly judged and dismissed because of their very different appearances. I wish I knew the secret to helping people care. I wish I knew how to encourage others to take a chance on people who are outside their accustomed circles. I wish I could re-define what is considered normal, and I could abolish the generally accepted paradigm that the pursuit and attainment of physical beauty somehow reflects the character of an individual.
In a perfect world there would be no such thing as imperfections, flaws, and abnormal. In a perfect world there would simply be people living life among other people. And everyone would be equally valued, accepted, and loved.