Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Teen to Presidential Candidates: Don’t You Forget About Me

JULY 12, 2007:

As you Democrats are off in Hollywood battling for star money and you Republicans are at the doors of your corporate sponsors, I know it’s easy for you guys to forget the little people. You know, the ones with the acne and the cracking voices. We’re not at the top of your list of people to listen to, and we know why: we don’t have a voice in the media or in Washington, we can’t vote for you, and we can’t give you a lot of money. But since we are, as scary as it may seem, the future of tomorrow, I pray that you will keep our interests in mind and set a new example of leadership.

What are those interests? Easy.

You’ve ignored the research on climate change until Al Gore made a slideshow. Look, I can’t say I’m a scientist who knows that global warming is real, but please do what you can to make sure my friends and I are going to be all right, and that we can have children who will be as well. We dig the cool light bulbs. Hey, maybe MTV can have a show called “Pimp My Hybrid.” It can air after “A Shot of Love with Albert Gore.”

Learn from unpopular wars. Do not send us to fight battles unless they’re absolutely necessary, and when you realize you have made a mistake, let us come home.

Please make sure the tragedy of 9/11/01 doesn’t repeat itself. I know that’s not a simple request but I am convinced you can do it. Get our allies back so we’re not fighting terrorists alone, and in the process you’ll be regaining that moral standing the U.S. seemed to have according to our history books. Increase security everywhere (this means armed members of America’s finest in hot spots, not wiretappings into my house).

Finally, and the issue most on our minds, when it comes to our schools, be creative. We know it is easy to send out boxes of standardized tests as opposed to actually examine our abilities to think critically, but the research is in: these tests do not evaluate the most important kind of knowledge and are simply unfair to students and teachers. Look at the studies—my peers are far behind in the world when it comes to academics. Get rid of some of the absurd curriculums and replace a class with something called Civics. Make it mandatory to learn how our nation should function and maybe we’ll be able to uphold those rules of civics one day. That is perhaps the scariest issue of all: the leaders of tomorrow are simply not equipped to lead.

Oh, and take care of that trillion-dollar national debt. We know you’ll be gone and you won’t have to pay it, but your kids will. And that pisses us off.

I love America. We all do. That’s why we’re all going to raise our families here. But how dare you question our indifference and distrust. We’ve been embarrassed by this beautiful country since day one. When I was born, a guy named George Bush was in a war with a place called Iraq. When I was about six or seven I was confused by what I saw on television: the guy my parents voted for was apparently doing naughty things with someone who wasn’t his wife. Then he lied about it to us and was impeached. When I was nine, that guy’s vice president had won the election of 2000 but wasn’t elected. Sworn in was a George Bush, son of George Bush, who also went to war with Iraq. But this George Bush made up funny words and evidently had a criminal record. When I was ten, the twin towers I was able to see across the Hudson from my rooftop were knocked down. Nobody knew what happened or how to deal with it. Then they said they found out who was responsible for knocking the buildings down, but six years later, they still can’t find him. In fact, that’s when the President went after a different guy, for reasons people say turned out not to be true, and members of congress are calling for his impeachment.

We’ve lost faith and we’ve become a little cynical. Excuse us. Folks wonder why we idolize Paris Hilton and Puff Daddy. It’s because when they screw up, the country doesn’t screw up. That, and the constant celebration of these stars on the channels that say they are showing us the news.

We’re growing up in some absurd times. We’re living in a time and place where our worst actors make more than our best teachers, and our neighbors are dying in a war led by a guy who went to Yale and got a 71 in Political Science and a 76 in History. Each generation has their own obstacles to overcome, each witnesses tragedies. Our parents saw their President killed, the President’s younger brother killed, Martin Luther King killed, and John Lennon killed. Some had to march alongside Dr. King and sing “We Shall Overcome” and maybe some spoke out against Vietnam with their tie-die t-shirts. Maybe it’s our turn to overcome the apathy and move away from our TV screens where us kids are watching more “Flavor of Love” than the evening news. I quiver to admit that the tests we’ll be given through the years will be far more challenging than the ones our states give us during finals week; instead, they will be real tests—tests that demand our sharpest action and our sharpest reaction, whether it is an attack on our soil or an attack on our civil liberties. But until that fateful day when my peers are forced to get off their couches and take charge of the country you’ll leave behind, please be our voice, or at least serve us well. Think about us—the hormonal bunch everyone likes to poke fun at—next time you make a speech or debate one another. We cringe when we hear our parents or our doctors tell us that our teenage bodies and our teenage minds are changing rapidly—we want to go back to the fun early days of our childhood and step back from those new responsibilities. But as I look around at the country I live in now, you know, rapid change doesn’t sound like such a bad thing after all.

No comments: