Our society is intolerant and suppressant of the voices of youth.
Individual prerogative and independent decision-making are virtues to be cherished, not detriments for adults to frown upon.
In this free American society of ours, “We The People” seems to have a faded asterisk attached to us: “*who are above the age of eighteen.” Age barriers are intrinsically written into our laws, preventing, discouraging, and stalling teenage and youth participation in a) the shaping of public policy, b) overall awareness of current events, and c) tolerance.
Society blames youth for many of its struggles. “These kids today” can’t and shouldn’t be trusted, they say. They’re all reckless and irresponsible, arrogant and inattentive. But why are so many teenagers inattentive? Because that’s the kind of youth that society fosters. The youth rates of literacy, political involvement, and kids who simply read the news would be unequivocally higher if our society was focused on encouraging us rather than admonishing us. But society is sanctimonious. Society is hypocritical. Paradoxically, while society is bashing teens and youth for our oh so foolish propensities, we’re also being held to a higher standard; a double standard.
Sixteen years olds can have jobs, therefore pay an income tax, but can’t vote: that’s called taxation without representation. Sixteen year olds can enlist in the army, therefore be handed some of the most dangerous and detrimental weapons known to man, butcan’t fight in combat. Sixteen year olds are allowed to drive motor vehicles, but they can’t watch R-rated movies.
It’s teenagers who stepped up and protested, bringing the 26th Amendment to the forefront. It’s teenagers who fill out colleges and universities. It’s teenagers who are the future of your country.
To society, teachers, parents, and mentors: please foster our voices, don’t muffle them. We promise not to push our homework-denying, fast-driving, music-blasting agenda on you.