Written by: Klaire Tan
When people say the world isn’t perfect, they’re usually referencing the bigger picture: the conflict in Syria, the shrinking ozone layer or the problems with healthcare. As a result, the majority of us live our lives passively accepting one dangerous excuse: the world’s problems are simply too big for us to fix as individuals. However, if we take a closer look, we might just realize that the world’s problems can be broken down into smaller components that can be reasonably addressed. The truth is that people can change the world for the better, and it all starts by dealing with the little things like cutting in line.
While cutting in line might appear to simply be a matter of waiting a few minutes longer, it is, in reality, a phenomenon that reflects the moral character and strength of a society as a whole. Cutting in line (and the basic injustice the action represents) has become a daily and blatantly accepted occurrence at Gunn, and that speaks poorly of our student body’s ability to overcome social conformity and pressures. The student population needs to begin standing up to line cutters, regardless of who they are: a random stranger, a classmate, a friend or even oneself. After all, if we aren’t able to stand up against small injustices, how can we be expected to act when greater things are at stake?
The first difficulty students need to overcome in curbing line cutting at Gunn is the attitude of broad acceptance most people hold. At our school, line jumping usually occurs in the form of friends joining up with someone who is already waiting. While this form of cutting in line is even more disrespectful and unfair than usual line jumping since several new individuals are allowed to enter the line, students have come to openly practice such behavior. Some have already acknowledged it as an expected fixture of Gunn’s lines. This tolerant attitude towards cutting in line at Gunn has bred an environment where line cutters fail to consider the ethics of what they’re doing. Consequently, when new students arrive at Gunn, they’re ushered into a pre-established system where it’s cut or get cut. From this emerges a vicious cycle in which new individuals are assimilated into the institution of line jumping and consequently provide the social pressure necessary to force future generations to follow.
Students have to take a step back and realize that there is rarely any justification for cutting in line. When we decide to wait in line, we are agreeing that whatever service will be rendered in return is worth sacrificing time for. If we aren’t willing to put up with the wait, then we shouldn’t be permitted to receive whatever services or goods others are waiting for. At Gunn, long wait times and the risk of being tardy are issues every student has to consider when choosing to wait in line. Everyone can come up with an excuse for cutting in line. We can all say, “they’re going to run out of pizza” or “I have class in the village next.” However, once we allow any exceptions to occur and justify them with poor excuses, the line between what is acceptable and what is not blurs. To ensure justice is fairly distributed, lines should stick to serving people in the order they arrive, no matter what “legitimate” excuse an individual may have.
Ultimately, the task of redefining social norms at Gunn should be, and is, one left up to the students. After all, we are the ones who originally allowed line jumping to become the status quo. Students should neither expect adults to reinforce fair social norms at Gunn nor fight our battles just because we fail to do so ourselves. We are the ones who decided that people could cut lines at our school, and we are also the ones who will decide whether students will continue to do so in the future.
—Tan, a junior, is a Forum Editor.