Why Don't People Take Teens' Political Views Seriously?
In a Trump-dominated America, it's difficult for young people to have a say in how our country is being run. We're silenced due to our age and are constantly told to come to terms with reality. I’ve been lectured by countless adults to “suck it up” and to not worry because "the adults will handle it." Seeing how the election went, many of us have a lot to worry about.
I worry about not having rights to marry whomever I want, not being able to access necessities to keep myself safe, and for the safety of my peers who aren’t protected by the law. It's hard not to express these concerns to those older than me. I want them to understand how I envision my future. Young perspectives like mine are excluded from mainstream news, and it's crucial to include young adults' views to bridge the generation gap.
Having knowledge from social media and personal essays like this one at the tip of my fingers is a privilege, and I take full advantage of it. I educate myself about other cultures, foreign affairs, and anytime I can make a standpoint when discussing our world with adults. But I'm still shut down. I'm still excluded at dinner conversations and still interrupted whenever I want to voice my opinion on an issue.
Although having political discussions at the dinner table is not recommended by etiquette experts, it's vital to keep our progress thriving. Still, those conversations don't feel open to me anymore. I'm not listened to because of my age, but at the same time, my age is my advantage: a new perspective, different experiences, and commitment to influencing our future world.
Many of us feel angry about current events right now, and you can see it in our words. Whether it's nasty comments on Instagram, lengthy Facebook posts, or impulsive tweets (we all know who is guilty of this), we each express our emotions differently.
It is OK to be angry. It is OK to be frustrated.
Instead of using this anger to fight, use it to educate. Try to sit down with your parents or grandparents and explain to them how you feel. As Timothy Stanley said in his essay "A Letter To My Children," “For it is education and not mass culture, that has the potential to counter disconnection.” By expressing our own experiences and doing it equipped with knowledge, those older than us will gain our perspective, and we'll learn from them, too.
Not everyone will hear you out or agree with you, and that will be disappointing. But it's important to never stop communicating with those around you. Write an article for your school’s paper, have a conversation with that person whose views you disagree with, sign up for updates from the No DAPL movement or ACLU. These actions may seem small, but over time they'll not only educate our generation, but our predecessors' as well.
By the time the next election happens, I'll be able to vote. Young people like me will have a say about future leaders. But don't forget that we still have power now. Our power is our voice. There is no age limit on speaking and educating others on what we know ourselves. Continue fighting for your rights. Keep trying to educate others, no matter how many times you are silenced. Even one conversation can make a difference. We see the world differently because of our age, and that is our power. One voice may be a whisper, but together we can make an uproar.
By Abbey Perrin, 15