Teens Are Not "Too Young" To Have Political Opinions, You're Just Ignorant

Teens Are Not "Too Young" To Have Political Opinions, You're Just Ignorant

The movements coming out of Parkland are only the beginning.
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Young people are constantly criticized by older generations for not understanding the intricacies of “adult issues” like gun reform. Anytime a teenager wants to share their opinion on a political issue they are immediately dismissed for being naive. Adults claim to be the only ones that can form well-supported arguments for their beliefs purely because of their age.

Older people usually say that they are wiser because they have many more years of life experience. While that may be true in some cases, it does not mean that the points teenagers make should be ignored because there is something to be learned from people of all ages.

Millennials are often bad-mouthed by older generations by calling us lazy and entitled when actually they are just terrified of the fact that millennials are having independent thoughts and attempting to change the world. Teenagers are also told they are too easily offended when they express their pain over an issue that directly affects them.

Then they are met with people saying that they will never take action to change the ideals of our society because we expect everything to be handed to us. Once we do organize and our movements gain traction, the older generations backpedal and try to stop us from making progress because they are stuck in their ways.

The latest example of this has been the reactions to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. Students like Emma Gonzalez have been sharing with the media why they believe the United States needs gun control and this has resulted in them being ridiculed by many adults. Despite their tremendous accomplishments of getting thousands of people to stand with them in their protests and share their speeches, adults are still coming up with excuses to invalidate their hard work.

Gun lovers adamantly oppose the students’ views because they claim to have always had guns and to have never hurt someone with them, but then threaten to shoot whoever tries to take them away. They talk down to the students by saying that they only got emotional over the state of Florida not passing an assault rifle ban because they hate not getting their way.

Some have even gone as far as to claim that the students that were being shown in the media are “crisis actors.” It is absolutely sickening that people are so desperate to bring the attention off of the need for gun control in the United States that they are willing to invalidate the experiences of these children by calling them crisis actors.

With each passing day, I see more and more teenagers rising up to stand for the causes they believe in. My generation is determined to make an impact and fix the problems in our world that have been caused and ignored by those that are older than us. There are just as many millennials with informed opinions on political topics as there are adults.

In all honesty, I have met more young people with political opinions that are based on actual facts and not prejudice than I have adults. Teenagers are going to shape this world into being safer and more inclusive and the movements coming out of Parkland are only the beginning.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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