This I Believe

Ryan - carrollton, Texas
Entered on November 11, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

People associate qualitative facts about others with past experiences that encompass a large spectrum of their thought: accents, hair styles, dress, and probably more than anything else…age. The Oxford English Dictionary defines age as, “A particular stage in one’s life.” This definition would only give the notion that age is not a marker of experience, maturity, ability, or intelligence; instead, it shows that it is merely a label that gives us a sense of identity.

In biblical times, people married when they became an adult around 13 or 14 years old. In present day the law defines us as “children” until we are 18, still to be looked upon as hooligans until we depart from our early 20’s. We talk about advance in our intelligence as a species, how our knowledge has expanded more than ever before, yet the countless ideas of our youth are continually disregarded by adults, habitually, simply because they come from a younger generation. And if our youth is heard, it is through a selective filter, one that throws out idiosyncrasies we fear to cogitate. A younger generation being smarter than us, that is what we fear: a younger person could not possibly be wiser or more correct than someone older. And this so-called “wiser,” originally expressing experience or judgement about a subject is now used as another label of intelligence. Does the fact that someone is older really mean they are more experienced in a specific subject, or possess greater judgement?

As a child I had the answers to many problems. Nine out of ten times I gave the answer I was not heard. Not because I was quiet, not because I talked to the wrong person, not because I was cocky, not because I wasn’t popular, but because I was younger. I was 7: my grandfather had just built a gate on his property. This gate was to fold down, interlacing with the cattle guard by hydraulics so cars could pass through. After the gate was finished they tested it, and it wouldn’t go to the ground. I asked if I could help, they said no. My uncle was looking in the control panel, my aunt looking at the hydraulics, my mother looking at the gate blankly as it kept stopping half way down. “Maybe its that rock sticking out of the wall,” I exclaimed. Dumbfounded, they all turned at me vacuously — I walked back to the house and began watching more TV.

When I was 15 I went into a Wells Fargo Bank and asked to open a business account. My mother was there, and every time the man had a question he would ask her and I would respond. He seemed very unsettled by this, unable to understand a teenager starting their own business. Was it truly possible?

Philo Farnsworth created a device in 1921 that could scan a picture in horizontal lines and emulate it almost instantly, stimulating the invention of the television, he was merely 14. Robert Heft created the 50 star American Flag for a class project. The teacher gave him a B minus for efforts; however, she promised a better grade if the U.S. Congress accepted his flag. He went before Congress in 1958 and his flag was accepted when he was only 17. These two people, and others, were denied acknowledgment because of age and their so-called “experience” in life. Others used Philo and Robert’s age as a label of intelligence instead of a marker in their life. If their perseverance was not present, we would not be watching TV, nor would our country’s flag be the symbol it has become.

This thought of older persons not acknowledging younger persons is apparent between every age group, including sophomores and juniors in high school. We as a society tell our youth to eliminate hazing, yet we haze the youth ourselves by not accrediting their thoughts. If we date people younger than us we are looked down upon, ridiculed; however, dating someone our age and more immature than us is acceptable. Does anyone else find these concepts bizarre or anomalous… much less, detect the slightest innuendo of irony?

I believe age is a “particular stage in one’s life:” a label to tell a person when something happened and nothing else; an association point, a possible link to memories provoked by thoughts of our past. I believe age should be private information, because, undoubtedly, it means nothing to anyone else. It is the idiosyncrasy of that person, not another insignificant snippet of information our society is permitted use for discrimination.