For about the twentieth time today I heard that a certain senator lacked
experience and another had too much. The constant ads on television, radio,
and every other possible medium mean only one thing: election year. As a
young, soon-to-be citizen, it is nothing short of breathtaking to be part of an
event that would impact the next four years of my life.
While I strongly believe in a specific candidate, arguing with someone
about the issues, whether it is the economy or health care, brings as much
enjoyment, if not more, as simply preaching about my beliefs. What worries me,
however, is that too many people seem to base opinion not on facts but
perception. To simply trust what we hear and see on television is pure
ignorance; while I don’t believe it is possible for everyone to experts about
every issue, as a future citizen I believe that it is our responsibility to be,
at the very least, somewhat knowledgeable of the issues at hand, whether it is
simply knowing that we face a recession unlike anything we’ve seen in half a
century, or the fact that more than forty-five million Americans lived without
health insurance last year. I would hate to think that the international view
of American teenagers was even remotely true.
Coming into this country as a young child, I had absolutely no idea how
blessed I was to be a part of nation that not only allowed the freedom of
speech, but also encouraged it. From my earliest memories of school, I can
recall numerous practices that were meant to specifically to cripple creativity
by cultivating an environment of fear. Anyone who showed the slightest sense
of rebelliousness was very harshly disciplined; as a result, I learned the best
way to avoid punishment was to do what I was told without question. So it was
an absolute shock when, during one of my first “American” classes, a classmate
of mine refused to do something the teacher just said merely moments ago. What
was even more astonishing was the fact that he faced absolutely no retribution
for, in my eyes at least, obstinate disobedience. It was experiences such as
these that have molded my perception of freedom; that it is perfectly legal, if
not sometimes necessary to defy authority. After all this country was created
by a group of dissatisfied men who were, in a sense, unwilling to accept
anything less than their perceived rights, the same ones that we enjoy today.
To truly be a part of democracy we must be informed about the issues and
thus be better able to exercise our right to choose. Whether one is liberal or
conservative does not matter nearly as much as whether someone is informed
about or ignorant of the issues.
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