New Politics in a Reluctant Generation

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“Kids don’t listen to your parents; parents can’t teach you; all they’ve ever left is a world and a mess.” This is possibly a great line that defines our generation from the band New Politics in their song Dignity. I can’t help but think that this song must be the anthem for our generation. This is the reluctant generation. The generation that was born and told, “I’m sorry about bringing you into a world that’s in shambles, but it’s you job to fix it. Get to work!”
I’m tired of hearing what we must or mustn’t do for our world. I’m fourteen, for gosh sakes! I don’t want to be president, so why should I focus on politics right now? I don’t want to be a banker, so why do I have to know every last thing about taxes, pension, and pay checks? I want to be a writer. I tell my parents that and I’m told I have to be published right now. I have to write and publish a book. I have to write articles and reviews and stories for publication. Then, I want to be a nutritionist. I have to research every last detail of sports and nutrition, on top of taking classes on it. I want to be an actress, and, well, that one was just laughed off.
My parents mostly went to college, until my father dropped out and my mother ended up in a career she hated and returned to school. It’s so different now, as I’m not only going to college with the exact career I want in mind, but I have to go with a fund of scholarships beforehand. This is because if the recession and the increase of all college tuitions. I don’t want to know that! I want to study to do what I want to do. I want to think, if only for another year, that I can have confidence to enter the real world and get the American dream right off the bat. I want to know, even only for a moment, that I don’t have to fix anything. Can’t all we kids pretend for a bit that the country doesn’t owe trillions of dollars and we have a surplus instead?
Today, three friends freaked out over a grade. The first was worried that she didn’t receive a ninety or above on a test in biology. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t get an A- in the class and her parents would be angry with her. The second was angry that she hadn’t received a ninety-five on a test. She got a ninety-two instead. The third was upset that her father was angry with her for not getting a hundred in geometry. He thought the class was too easy for her to not have. She got a ninety-eight instead. I, myself, received an eighty-five on my biology test, and though it was the highest grade of gotten in the class all year, I was still upset it wasn’t an A. My parents would have been thrilled with a B. In fact, my father admits that he never really tried hard enough in school to get a B. Then again, he already had a job that would support him. He wasn’t entering the real world in the middle of a recession.
My father frequently quotes famous phrases from politically figures he obviously idolizes. I can hardly get through the day without hearing, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
I heard these phrases, among many others, and knew that many parents were democrats. To honor this fact, I often found myself arguing my side to my friends as they did the same. I started this back in third grade all the way up to seventh. Until then, I hadn’t realized that I was quoting my father like he quoted his political figures. I realized I had no opinions on politics, except his and my mother. What’s even worse, I don’t want those opinions. I want opinions on movies, clothes, music, and books. I want opinions on things that my friends and I generally enjoy talking about, in a fun, civilized manner, and not things that seem to end a yelling fit.
For years, I’ve been told about this recession, about all of the previous presidents’ mistakes, and about how terrible our governor is doing. I actually know how much we are paying on our house. I’m a kid and because of this fact, I fear we will lose our home. I actually hate Christmas, not only because of the constant arguments my family gets into around that time, but because I’m racked with guilt from asking for anything that’s even moderately expensive. I miss Santa Claus, back when I thought elves were putting together my prize and not being paid for by money that should be used to pay our debts.
In this generation, school is the top priority. Gone are the days in which “kids are just being kids.” Kids were once expected to be outside, playing kickball in the streets or riding their bikes. Now, I’m forced into a room with strangers for extracurriculars and up all hours of the night to works on papers and study for exams. I have a minimum of two major tests a week and three quizzes. When the marking period comes to a close, those numbers are doubled. On top of that, I have quarterly exams at the end of every marking period, midterms and finals, state-standardized test every May, and another test in most classes at the end of the year that dictate whether or not we may advance to a higher grade the following year. According to an article in TIME magazine in 2006, the amount of time spent doing homework is up 51% since 1981. Doesn’t seem to leave much time for friends, does it?
Twenty percent of teenagers today will face depression, while depression in teens was almost unheard of twenty years ago. I can’t help but think that the pressure that is put upon today’s youth may contribute to this fact. I hear so often that we are meant to do something great, to save the world for all future generations, that sometimes I can’t help but wonder why someone didn’t do the same for us.





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