Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This Guy is Awesome


     A few days ago I came across a book called The Teen's Guide to World Domination: Advice on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Awesomeness. Who could not pick up a book like that? I read the first few pages and decided to check it out from the library. Fortunately for you, the book did not contain directions on conquering the world. It's actually a self help book about dominating your personal world. So I'll have to put off my plans to become Supreme Dictator of Planet Earth.
     The author, Josh Shipp, is also a motivational speaker. He gives good advice on money, dating, friends, jobs, so on and so forth. Even though he's a twenty-nine-year-old with a wife son, he's awesome at relating to teenagers. He rarely talks about "back in the day" or describes himself as An Adult, and never talks down to readers.  But best of all, his  "in your face but on your side" style is hilarious. I'm not exactly sure how to describe how hilarious he is, so I'm going to let his own words speak for him. This is the first page of his book:

//If you skip this introduction, I will find you and slap you. I'm not joking.
Good evening, teenage human,
     Pleasure to meet you. I'm Josh Shipp, aka the guy on the cover of this book whose hair looks like a Chia Pet. Aka the guy who just threatened to slap you. And meant it.
     I don't always threaten to slap people. I only do that when it's important, you know? Slapping people usually gets their attention. And I need you attention right now because your life is at stake.
     "Excuse me, Josh?" Yes, you heard me. Your life is at stake.
     No, you're not dying, so don't panic and call 911. This is good news, so lean in and listen closely.
     You get to choose how you live your life.
     I seriously recommend this book to absolutely anybody reading this-teenagers, parents, teachers, adults who aren't parents or teachers-it's awesome. I normally have better word choice, but that's all I can say about it. Just read the book already.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Another Syrian Teen Murdered

     A while back, I posted about thirteen-year-old Hamza al-Kahtib, a teenager who was arrested, tortured, and executed by the Syrian government for being involved in protests. Fifteen-year-old Tamer Mohammed al-Sharei disappeared from Daraa on April 29th, the same day and area as the former.
     Tamer was taken to a filthy detention center in Damascus. While there, he was ordered to praise Syrian president Bashar Assad. He refused and chanted an often heard anti-regime slogan calling for "freedom and the love of God and our country." He was beaten in response.
     I don't know how much will be more than some of you want to hear. If you feel the need to know all the horrific details, you can look them up elsewhere. Let's just say they broke his wrist and beat him until he was covered with blood and cried out, "Mom, Dad, come rescue me!" Later, he said nothing at all.
     Both teenagers' deaths have enfuriated protestors all across Syria. When you kill someone, you're seen as a bad guy. When you kill a teenager or child, you're seen as pure evil. Syrian government, you may be able to crush people into obedience that way, but you will never win their loyalty.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rebels and Activists

     I've heard this phrase before and expect to hear it again in the future: "You're such a rebel." Funnily enough, I don't consider myself a rebel. I'm more of an activist. What's the difference?
    Rebels like rebellion. They roll their eyes and talk back because they want to be difficult. Instead of picking their battles, they'll challenge anything that comes along. Some-but not all or even most-rebels wear leather jackets, dye their hair, and pierce various parts of their bodies.
     Activists care about making a difference. They'll usually talk politely to people (unless they're being downright insulted) because they want support for their causes. They may collect signatures for petitions, boycott products, or use social networking to spread stories, facts, and opinions.
     The main difference between the two is that activists care about what they're doing. They want to pave a road to a brighter future. Rebels aspire to be roadblocks.Stubborn, annoying roadblocks.
     Lots of times, teenagers are shoved into the rebel category, whether they are rebels or not. Some people are rebels, some are activists, others are neither, and most fit into different categories depending on the circumstances.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Smartest Kids in the World

Gregory Smith, 13
    If you google the words 'smartest person in the world', almost every article you find will have the words 'child prodigy' somewhere. None of the people you read about waited until adulthood to display their exceptional skills. Kim Ung-Yong, now forty-nine, attended university at the ripe old age of four, worked for NASA at seven, and had a Ph. D in physics by the time be turned fifteen. Today he has the world's highest IQ.       All of a sudden, my honor roll status seems small and insignifigant.
     But he isn't the only one to ever be called a child prodigy. Gregory Smith could read books at age two, went to university at ten, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of twelve. What did he do to deserve this nomination? Smith is an activist for peace and childrens' rights. He founded an organization called International Youth Advocates, which promotes understanding and peace to young people around the world.
     Akrit Jaswal has been called the smartest boy in India, or even the world. When he was seven years old, a local girl burned her hand in a fire, causing her fingers to curl up in a fist and refuse to open. Her family couldn't afford a doctor, so Jaswal, with no formal training or experience with surgery, was able to fix it so she could open her fingers and use her hand. Now he's busying himself finding a cure for cancer.
     Seven-year-old Elaina Smith was listening to the radio when she heard a woman despairing over her boyfriend dumping her. She called in and offered her advice: "Go bowling with friends and drink a mug of milk." The station liked her advice and gave Smith a time slot. She continues to give her advice. Best friend stole your boyfriend? You want to get him back? "He's not worth the heartache. Life's too short to be upset with a boy. His new girlfriend will always be thinking if he cheated with her than he will cheat again."
     Still think young people aren't smart? Think again.

My First Encounter With Age Discrimination

     My first encounter with age discrimination occured a little over a year ago, on the fourth of July. I know that sounds a little bit corny, age discrimination and Independence Day, but I'm not making this up. I was staying at a dude ranch with several members of my extended family. We had a fun time there, riding horses, square dancing, and all that other stuff you find yourself doing at a dude ranch. There was a little gift shop that sold cowboy themed souvenirs. On the door was a sign that read 'Children May Not Make a Purchase Without an Adult Present'. For the first few days, I'd wondered what that sign meant. Were they worried children might try to buy toys and candy with their parents stolen money?
     I hadn't brought any money to the ranch, but I liked walking into the shop and looking at all the little dream catchers. They must have had a few hundred of them. At one time I was standing towards the back of the shop while some of my younger cousins stood at the front. I remember them talking and giggling. Maybe the saleslady didn't like the noise, or maybe she was worried they would break something. Whatever the case, she said, "You kids aren't allowed to be in here."
     Allowed? I never saw a rule that said we weren't allowed to be in the store. The sign only prohibited us from making a purchase on our own.
     This was a small incident. Perhaps the only reason I remember it is because it was Independence Day and I composed a very long, very spirited journal entry about frusturation, discrimination, and exactly what I thought of the word independence. Anyways, this encounter stuck in my head and brought other small incidents to my attention.
     For example, three months later my cousin had her thirteenth birthday. I heard my aunt complaining, "Great. Now Casey's going to be a teenager." I might have let this slide before, but it reminded me of the gift shop incident. I told my aunt (politely, I might add. I like my aunt) that nobody turned into a brat over night, and there is really no reason why anybody should assume teenagers are brats in the first place.
     Little things like this built up over time. All these encounters have given me a different view of the world and a cause to fight-or at least blog-for.