It's Time to Listen To Our Youth, Because Age Doesn't Equal Wisdom

It's Time to Listen To Our Youth, Because Age Doesn't Equal Wisdom

The young people of today become the voters of tomorrow--maybe it's time to hear them out.
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Theoretically speaking, with age comes wisdom. In many cases, this is true--as we grow older and experience more, we learn from our mistakes and grow as people. If we were to break this statement down logically, however, the converse isn’t necessarily true: just because you’re not old, doesn’t mean you can’t be wise.

Think of the Revolutionary War (friendly reminder that many of them were younger than ya think--Hamilton was 21 in 1776 #facts), the World Wars, the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout history, young people have oftentimes been the catalysts for change.

The youth of today have had enough. In the wake of countless tragedies—from gun violence and terrorism to prejudice and everything in between—many teenagers have taken a stand. And I’m not just talking about attending marches and social media activism (while those are respectable choices as well): we have some incredible role models.

Take Malala Yousafzai, for example. A young girl shot in the face at 15 years old for advocating for the education of girls. Yousafzai made the choice to use her terrifying plight to continue her mission, facing terroristic threats head on and becoming the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in history.

Take Jack Andraka, who at 13 years old developed a method of early detection for pancreatic cancer that’s noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective. Andraka took the tragic loss of a family friend and did something about it. (Check out his Ted talk)

Take Zendaya: a multi-talented celebrity who uses her platform to advocate for cultural awareness, body positivity, and equality all while maintaining an impressive career at 21 years old.

This list could go on forever—amazing young people have been around since the dawn of time. The point I'm trying to make here is that our youth are valuable and can be just as intelligent, well-spoken, and informed (if not more so) as adults.

Why then, when it comes to teens fighting for societal and political change, is it acceptable for adults to write them off as ‘just kids’ who couldn’t possibly understand what they’re talking about?

You’ve probably heard of the March for Our Lives: an anti-gun-violence event held in Washington DC and several other major cities organized by the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.The horrific events that took place in Parkland, Florida spurred this group of teenage survivors to act, pushing for gun reform and taking politicians to task.

I don’t want to even get into my own political stance on this particular topic (to summarize: anyone who thinks AK-47s and AR-15s have any place in civilized society is not a person I want to associate with, but I digress).

These incredible, resilient young Americans have come under fire from countless adults, from faceless internet commentators to downright rude politicians and news anchors. Their main argument? Their age.

You can disagree with someone politically. You can offer intelligent counter-arguments if someone else’s stance doesn’t add up or check out factually. Debate is good—healthy, even.

What you can’t do, however, is write off the viewpoint of an entire segment of the population because you’ve decided they haven’t reached the right age yet. Telling a group of teenagers who lived through a school shooting that they don't understand gun violence or how to fix it isn't just incorrect, it's disrespectful.

The youth of today become the voters of tomorrow in the blink of an eye. It won’t be long before those who choose not to hear them out come to regret it.

Cover Image Credit: Everypixel.com

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I Might Have Aborted My Fetus When I Was 18, But Looking Back, I Saved A Child’s Life

It may have been one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had done it.

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Due to recent political strife happening in the world today, I have decided to write on a very touchy, difficult subject for me that only a handful of people truly know.

When I was 18 years old, I had an abortion.

I was fresh out of high school, and deferring college for a year or two — I wanted to get all of my immature fun out so I was prepared to focus and work in the future. I was going through my hardcore party stage, and I had a boyfriend at the time that truly was a work of art (I mean truly).

Needless to say, I was extremely misinformed on sex education, and I never really thought it could happen to me. I actually thought I was invincible to getting pregnant, and it never really registered to me that if I had unprotected sex, I could actually get pregnant (I was 18, I never said I was smart).

I remember being at my desk job and for weeks, I just felt so nauseous and overly tired. I was late for my period, but it never really registered to me something could be wrong besides just getting the flu — it was November, which is the peak of flu season.

The first person I told was my best friend, and she came with me to get three pregnancy tests at Target. The first one came negative, however, the second two came positive.

I truly believe this was when my anxiety disorder started because I haven't been the same ever since.

Growing up in a conservative, Catholic Italian household, teen pregnancy and especially abortion is 150% frowned upon. So when I went to Planned Parenthood and got the actual lab test done that came out positive, I was heartbroken.

I felt like I was stuck between two roads: Follow how I was raised and have the child, or terminate it and ultimately save myself AND the child from a hard future.

My boyfriend at the time and I were beyond not ready. That same week, I found out he had cheated on me with his ex and finances weren't looking so great, and I was starting to go through the hardest depression of my life. Because of our relationship, I had lost so many friends and family, that I was left to decide the fate of both myself and this fetus. I could barely take care of myself — I was drinking, overcoming drug addictions, slightly suicidal and living with a man who didn't love me.

As selfish as you may think this was, I terminated the fetus and had the abortion.

I knew that if I had the child, I would be continuing the cycle in which my family has created. My goal since I was young was to break the cycle and breakaway from the toxicity in how generations of children in my family were raised. If I had this child, I can assure you my life would be far from how it is now.

If I had carried to term, I would have had a six-year old, and God knows where I would've been.

Now, I am fulfilling my future by getting a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, having several student leadership roles, and looking into law schools for the future.

Although it still haunts me, and the thought of having another abortion truly upsets me, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I get asked constantly "Do you think it's just to kill a valuable future of a child?" and my response to that is this:

It's in the hands of the woman. She is giving away her valuable future to an unwanted pregnancy, which then resentment could cause horror to both the child and the woman.

As horrible as it was for me in my personal experience, I would not be where I am today: a strong woman, who had overcome addiction, her partying stage, and ultimately got her life in order. If I would have had the child, I can assure you that I would have followed the footsteps of my own childhood, and the child would not have had an easy life.

Because of this, I saved both my life and the child's life.

And if you don't agree or you dislike this decision, tough stuff because this is my body, my decision, my choice — no one else.

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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