Although it is easy to give into stereotypes that teenagers simply haven’t developed the brains or the responsibility to do any sort of political thinking, it is time to discredit the ‘what would YOU know’ arguments.
The sheer force of the March for Our Lives movement goes to show that our voices can make a difference. This isn’t a new concept – Malala Yousafzai, Anne Frank and Joan of Arc are only the well-known, tip of the iceberg examples of teenagers turning the world inside out. The reality is that a lot of us are better adapted to political conversations than many adults.
Teenagers today are growing up in the most interconnected world there’s ever been. Social media is just one of the many tools that we have utilised in order to hear the most diverse array of opinions from all corners of the world. Surely, this diversity is what makes us suited to speak on political matters. It does help that at 16 years old most of us exist for the time being with no hidden agendas or plans. When we speak, it is honest, unapologetic and true to our principles.
Getting involved in politics as teenagers means that when we grow up, our generation will be better prepared for things ahead. It is our future that is being decided today and understanding it is a step towards making it better. Why should we leave our future livelihoods at the hands of those who wouldn’t live to experience it?
Getting involved isn’t necessarily a call for you to go outside and organise a protest. It can be as simple as:
- Educating yourself on things that matter to YOU by going to multiple unbiased sources to get the facts OR
- Joining a debate or social justice club where you can have an open discussion with like-minded people.
- Although there are age restrictions on being able to vote, there aren’t any on contacting your legislators. You can always send your local representative an email or letter urging them to put in more bike lanes, for example.
- To take it a step further: attend a Town Hall meeting. Not only can you register to speak, but you can hear about what is going on locally. (Town Hall decisions probably impact you more personally that federal ones do.)
- And finally, write. After all, the most effective political tool is the spread of information.
The truth is, many of us forget what a gift democracy is. Here’s to utilising it to its full potential and not repeating older generation’s mistakes. If the realm of possibility at our generation’s fingertips doesn’t fill you with chills, take a look around: change is on the horizon.