By Anthony Sichi
Special to the Pittsburgh Current
Throughout my entire life, my family had taught and continuously enforced how important loving and caring for others is. Whether hating someone due to a disability, someone’s financial situation, someone’s skin color, or someone’s sexuality. Growing up I had always been told that we are all human. It had never dawned on me how hateful the world is through my early life through middle school and even early high school. Living in a predominantly white and more well-off suburb in the South Hills of Pittsburgh for my entire life created a bubble around me, separating me from the world outside of Pleasant Hills and Thomas Jefferson High School. This bubble basically isolated and separated our school district and the neighborhoods inside from the poorer and less fortunate neighborhoods around ours. The lack of diversity for years has basically sustained and supported older and more insensitive ways of living and thinking about others. While more and more kids and people moved away from the older forms of thinking as younger couples moved into the neighborhood and district, some of these views still remained.
Going through high school, I had become a student leader at my local church. Throughout middle school, I had gone to the youth group, which gave me a very solid idea of how the program was run and the hearts of those who were in charge of it. During my time leading at the church, I had met some of the most caring and loving people I had ever met and gotten much closer with my best friends. While I didn’t really care much for religious aspects of helping at the church, I cared more for the moral lessons that further supported what I had been taught my entire life. The life lessons some of the stories we had covered further solidified and supported what I was taught growing up, to love and care about everyone no matter what your differences are. Constantly being surrounded with a support system and people I knew I could rely on made me feel like what I had been taught was valid and taught to who I thought was a majority of people in our area and surrounding areas. The small group of guys that had been our “chat room” to discuss the stories and the difficult times we may potentially be going through still stays in contact to this day and continues to support each other.
During my early tenure at the church and through my early years of high school, I really had no political opinions and didn’t really care too much about what happened in the elections or for any policy made. The neighborhood I had grown up in was a predominantly white, well-off, conservative area, which in a way made me feel like believing in conservative policy and politicians was my only way to go. Granted, at the time I was extremely ignorant to the idea that these policies would still impact me even though I was not the one voting for or against them, I really just turned my mind off when it came to any political debate. The constant debate and arguing was just something I didn’t care to participate in. You were either right or wrong.
Around the 2016 Election is when I first began “caring” about politics, even though at the time I really had no idea what was going on, I had simply been told to support the lesser of two evils, which at the time I had thought was Donald J. Trump. Two impeachments and a new president later, I can firmly say, yeah I was wrong in supporting him. While I was very non confrontational when it came to political debate and discussion due to my lack of knowledge, I had always believed what I thought was right and everything else was wrong. My eyes really began to open on what I had really been supporting and believing was “the right way” to run a country when I first saw the disgusting states of the detention centers at the border of the United States and Mexico. Seeing easily over 100 Mexican immigrants squished into an area that looked to be about 50 feet by 50 feet, sleeping and laying with what looked like tin foil blankets on top of them opened my eyes to thinking, “Holy shit, is this what I supported?”. It made me feel sick to my stomach. It led me to do more research and give more thought to what I really believed in politically. Coming from learning to love and care about everyone no matter our differences and seeing the mistreatment of these people looking for a better life being forced to live in extremely dehumanizing conditions, helped me to realize maybe what I was supporting and had no real knowledge about wasn’t for me.
As I take a retrospective look on the past four years, I can firmly say I went through my early adult years at a very important time in history, not only for the country as a whole, but also just for me. Donald Trump was not a true Republican, and I don’t let him alter my view of those with conservative views, but in a weird way I am thankful for his four years in office. I am not thankful for the things he did in office, the hate and violence he incited when it came to telling white supremacists to stand by during Black Lives Matter Protests, or him calling for more violence when his supporters stormed Capitol Hill, but I am thankful for the fact that we can learn from these events, as I did early on. While I can look back at those years and feel in a way thankful, there’s others around the country that had the worst years of their lives due to being shunned by the president. It helped me realize how underrepresented some are around this country. These past four years helped me to develop ideas and thoughts that I firmly believed in and supported my values I was taught from early on in my life. My views of supporting everyone no matter what I feel like were more supported by liberal views. There’s always going to be somebody who was dealt a worse hand than you, and it’s not their fault. They were simply put in a worse circumstance than more well off areas around the country. Like I was supported by those who had more knowledge and understanding about life during my years at the church, I feel like people need to be supported and guided in the right ways and supported if they are fogging through tough times. I was taught to care about and help people no matter what, I feel like my values were better represented by the liberal party.
Anthony Sichi is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh studying Media and Professional Communications on the Digital Media track. He hopes to work in advertising. He grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and has always taken an interest in creative writing, deriving inspiration from his favorite music and films.