Throughout my teenage years and life as a young adult, I've had so many people tell me and my friends that we're "just kids" and "we don't need to concern ourselves with these issues." We should "leave these things to the 'real adults.'" But at what point do we become "real adults"?
Is it when we turn 18 and we are allowed to start voting? Is it later when we are old enough to run for a political office? Is earning a degree or starting a family a requirement for becoming a "real adult"? At what made-up age is it acceptable for us to start to care about what is going on in the world around us?
Free and critical thinking should be developed at a young age. As high school students begin taking government and politics classes they will likely begin forming their own political ideas. This is the age where they are starting to become adults and need to learn the skills that will integrate them with the adult world. Telling a young person who is actively learning about their government should not have their thoughts or values suppressed solely based on age.
While it is true that many young people will see their opinions and values change with age, that doesn't discredit their current belief system. Adults are entitled to believe what they want for the reasons that they want, and young adults should be given that same respect. Our democratic system was built for everyone. Not just those that deem themselves "real adults".
By the time we are able to vote, we should have fully-formed political ideas and not rely on our parents to tell us what to think. Why? Because we are not the same generation as our parents. We are our own generation with new ideas, ideals, and goals. Young people deserve to be heard and not discredited. Because they are the future.
Older generations need to stop telling young people that they have no place in politics. This is suppressing the ideas that could work to form a better, completely different society. As the younger generations grow up and start voting, it is time to break out of some of the norms and allow their ideas to be fully integrated into society. This is why it is so important to encourage young people to engage in politics and reform while exercising their right to vote.
This younger generation is the future, and they deserve to live in a world that they helped create. It is absolutely time for young adults to step up and enter into polite political debates, protest, vote, and start developing the future that they want to have. This will ensure that one day, when they become "real adults", they will have developed empathy, compassion, a polite way of expressing disagreement, and ultimately, a better world.
Now is the time to stop keeping the new generation out of politics just because you disagree with them or believe that they are too young to understand what they are saying. We as young adults need to express ourselves and learn to develop our own opinions and mindsets so that we can contribute to our society in a meaningful way.