Tuesday, July 31, 2012

D is for Declaration of the Rights of the Child

Eglantyne Jebb
Back in 1923, a British woman named Eglantyne Jebb (don't ever name your daughter that) brainstormed a five-part proclamation for the Save the Children foundation. 
1. The child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually.
That sounds pretty good. Basic, and good.
2. The child that is hungry must be fed, the child that is sick must be nursed, the child that is backward must be helped, the delinquent child must be reclaimed, and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succored.
Food, shelter, all good things, but what exactly does it mean by "backward"? Mentally handicapped? Hmm. Can't say that word anymore. And reclaimed. I can think of two meanings for that, opposite meanings. Most likely it's suggesting parental discipline and reform schools. If you scroll down to my previous post, "B is for Boot Camps", you know how I feel about so-called correctional facilities. People have died in those places.
3. The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress.
Sure, why not?
The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood, and must be protected against every form of exploitation.
The two parts of that sentence almost sound contradictory at first. "Put in a position to earn a livelihood" makes me think of child labor, which makes me think of the research I did for a history fair project back in fourth grade, which makes me think of Lewis Hine photographs.
"Protected against every form of exploitation". Child prostitution and pornography and trafficking are exploitation,  but so is hard labor for low wages.
But then, maybe they're trying to create a happy compromise here. Honest work, honest wages. Or maybe the "position" they're being put in refers to school. I haven't read anything about education yet.
5. The child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow men.
Okay, that could count. But number five makes me think of so many other things before school. After school programs, sports, arts, community service, and mostly children learning to think and act for themselves. Adults have a responsibility to provide their fellow men, especially the younger ones. If you want to be an adult, really being an adult, you have to go from being acted upon to acting. Otherwise you're just a thirty-something guy with no wife, no kids, and no job living in his parents' basement.
And why are these children called "it"? "It" is the pronoun you use to talk about mosquitoes and spatulas. Not people.
All in all, the five principles sound like important, impactful ideas. They've gone a long way since 1923. The United Nations adopted them in 1959 after they added on to them. The date of adoption-November 20th-is now Universal Children's Day. And my little brother's birthday, which he thinks is somewhat cool.
Childrens' Days are celebrated all around the world. Most countries use the date June 1st. Many celebrate the day with parades, gifts, a day off school, and free admission to museums and zoos for children.
The U.S. just puts it on the calendar for October 11th and then virtually ignores it. Even though it's been a holiday longer the Mothers' and Fathers' Day. Lame. Strangely enough, United Kingdom is one of the few countries to not have a Childrens' Day, even though it was a British woman who drafted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in the first place.

Note to self: Make a big fuss on October 11th. I already missed June. Why do I always find out about these holidays after they happen?

Monday, July 30, 2012

C is for Camel Racing

Yes, it's a real sport. There's also camel wrestling, but that's a camel-on-camel sport. All the humans do is place bets.
Camel racing is an entirely different matter. They won't race without a jockey urging them on. Lighter rider, faster camel.
That's why most trainers use children. Not just teenagers, but kids. Some are young as four.

And these aren't local village boys who want to play with the big animals. Most of them are trafficked from countries like Sudan, Ethiopia, Afgahnistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Many of these children, some young as six months, were sold by their parents for money or employment. Others are kidnapped. Estimates say there anywhere from 5,000 to 40,000 child jockeys in the Persian Gulf States.
They'll work up to 17 hours a day, both racing and slave labor. During races they'll fall down often and get injured badly. Nobody takes them to the hospital because they'd have to admit to illegally  keeping underaged jockeys. The results: no medical treatment. Prolonged pain. Sometimes death.
The boys are always roped or velcroed to their mounts, but even then they can bounce off and get trampled or dragged.
If they scream at the start of the race, the trainers take that as a good sign. It'll push the camels on.
Many boys carry radios so the trainers can tell them when to swing the riding crop.
The United Arab Emirates placed a ban on using boys under 15, but that's broken all the time. They even televise races with young children.
A few rehabilitation centers have been created for freed former jockeys. They provide healthcare and education to prepare the boys for better lives. Not an easy task. Most of the boys can't remember living outside of the camel camps. They don't know how to use the basic things you use everyday by afternoon. Bathtubs. Toilets. Cupboards. They don't even know how to sleep in beds.

Reuniting some of these boys with their families is impossible. Because they're taken as such young ages, many don't know their parents names and can't speak their native languages.
 Child trafficking is alive and rampant all over the world. Every year, tourists can come to gawk at those little kids on those huge beasts, and then go home and forget all about it.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

B is for Boot Camps

Everybody's heard of juvenile detention centers. That's where bad kids go when they commit crimes. Because the law sentenced them. Perfectly legal, perfectly appropriate.
But most people have never heard of boot camps. Correctional facilities, that's the euphemistic, colorful brochure name for them.
Not usually government owned. Not usually government sentenced. These kids are there because their parents are paying by the month for them to be there. Reasons vary. These camps are known for taking "defiant" or "troubled" teenagers, but they're extremely welcoming in who they'll accept. Drug use? Failing in school? ADHD? Sure.
A smoker needs a nicotine patch. A struggling student needs a tutor or simply some help from their parents. A kid with ADHD needs tactics to calm down and focus or perhaps some medication.
Every boot camp is different, but they share a lot of similarities. Common practices include exercise in extreme heat or cold, beatings, food deprivation, having no contact with friends, parents, or the outside world. I've heard of several who punish teenagers who step out of line by forcing them to lie face down on a concrete floor with their hands at their sides for several days at a time.
All these kids can do is pray and wait until they're released. For short-term programs, that may be two months. For others, it will be their eighteenth birthday.
Not all of them will make it out. I've heard of seven deaths in Utah, my home state. Apparently they have over 200
I wanted to post photos of them so you'd see these people and think of humans, not hollow names or the general concept of a troubled teenager, the general concept of dying young. But because of legal copyright issues I am not allowed to do that.
Click on this link.
I can provide pictures of Utah

Michelle Sutton was fifteen. She liked to draw and play the piano. Michelle wanted to be a presechool teacher when she grew up. She voluntarily enrolled in Summit Quest's 63-day wilderness program because of self esteem problems. It cost $13,900.
She died seven days later on a hike with supervising counselors and four other teenagers, including her best friend, Andrea Dawes. Andrea later named her firstborn daughter Michelle.
As they hiked through the desert, Michelle complained that she was exhausted and nauseous. They gave her water and she vomited most of it up.
The supervisors, warned of potential manipulation, decided she was faking it to get out of the hike. She died while they looked on. They put the death down to drug overdose, until tests revealed she had no drugs in her system. Then they called it dehydration.
That was 1990.

In 1994, Aaron Bacon's parents enrolled him in another Utah boot camp.
He was funny, smart, and wrote prizes for poetry he wrote himself. Then he started smoking marijuana and ditching class. A gang jumped him in the school's parking lot. He claimed he didn't know them.
Without telling Aaron, his parents paid $13,900 to send him to North Star Expeditions and an extra $775 to have him escorted.
Aaron woke up to find two large men entering his bedroom. Lance Jagger and Don Brukhart.
"You're coming with me," Lance said, "If I detect any resistance, I'll assume you're trying to get away, and I'll take the appropriate action. Do I make myself clear?"
A little over a month later, his parents flew in to see their son's body in the morgue. If it weren't for a scar above his right eye he'd had since childhood, his mother wouldn't have been able to recognize him.
"His legs were like toothpicks," she said. "His hip bones-they stuck way out, and his ribs-he looked like a concentration camp victim. There were bruises from the tips of his toes to the top of his head, open sores up and down the inside of his thighs."
North Star Expeditions claimed Aaron's death resulted from issues with his small intestine.
Aaron and Michelle weren't the only ones. For Utah alone, I've heard of Kirsten Chase, Ian August, Katherine Lank, and Elisa Santry.
I was shocked, to say the least, to hear of all this horribleness going on in my home state. Your supposed to believe that "bad things" happen in the past. And if they're still going on, they're going on in far away, uncivilized regions of the world. And if it's your country, it's the fault of stupid, cruel people in other regions or stupid, cruel politicians.
Yes, politicians make the best scapegoats.
But I'm willing to bet most politicians don't know because, believe it or not, politicians are usually people. And most people don't know. Do you, sitting indoors on your comfy office swivel chair, or viewing this on your phone or iPod, did you know?
I won't be blogging for the next week. That is because tomorrow I am leaving on a road trip across most of the state of Utah, through scenery like this:

And I'll be sick of interesting rock formations by the time I get there. We're going to Lake Powell. I won't have internet for the next week, but I'll probably gain ideas while I'm gone so I can come back and get started. I intend to finish my alphabet parade and then cover boot camps, starting with more Utah.
International readers, don't dismiss this as something that only happens in America. Because Americans are dismissing it as something that only happens in your country, and then nobody does anything.
I intend on doing something.
What will you do?

Helpful sources: nospank.net, teenadvocatesusa.org

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A is for Age of Candidacy

I'm going to focus mainly on the ages required to be on the ballot for national and local elections. There are so many other things you could run for-governor, senator, representative, delegate, deputy, parlimentary member-but I don't think either one of us really wants to read through all of  those. Also, if I don't mention your country and that bothers you, please leave a comment below so I can improve my post.
In America, where I happen to live, you have to be 35 to be on the ballot for president, 30 to be a senator, and 25 for a representative. I always thought that sounded just and logical enough. Forget experience and wisdom, most people in their twenties are busy with other things. College, starting a family, finding and working a good job. Rules aren't so strict for mayors, there have been some young as 18 for small towns.
 But as it turns out, the land of the free and home of the brave actually has required ages years beyond those of many other countries.
Italy has the highest age I could find-50 to run for president. That's 40 for Germany, 35 in India, 30 in Colombia, and 23 in France. Now where did they get that number?
18, age of majority and age of suffrage in many countries, is also old enough to get you on a ballot for a position at any level in Australia, the Netherlands, and the UK minus Northern Ireland. Other countries have it as a partial. In Canada, an 18 year old can run for anything but the Senate. Germany allows them to run in national, regional, and local elections. France's rule lets them compete in "municipal, cantonal, and regional" elections.
But not president. Oh well, wait five years and take it from there.
Now, running and winning are very different things. But it's hard to win if you can't get on a ballot, though I've heard of youth succeeding as write-in candidates.
Which provokes a question-could the United States voting age stand to be lowered? What about those for other countries?
Personally, I say we wait until there's a stream of really promising candidates below the required ages. America has never even had a president younger than 44 (John F. Kennedy). Nobody particularly cares about congressman, so any fuss will probably wait until we elect a 36 year old president.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Alphabet Parade

So the other day I was wasting my life, browsing wikipedia in other words, and I found it. A list of articles relating to youth rights in alphabetical order.
I thought, That gives me about twenty-six post ideas right there.
Of course, not all the letters have a good topic to go with them, so I'll comensate with additional posts for the other letters. Keep in mind that I'm blogging in English. The words and letters probably won't match up if you're reading this in another language. And if we don't use the same alphabet-oh well, more fun for you. Sorry, Russia.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lowell Teens Lobby for Lower Voting Age

Young activists from Lowell, Massachusetts are pushing the state to lower the voting age to 17. If the measure is passed, they would only be allowed to vote in city elections. Yet the movement has gathered a lot of controversy and supporters. Even though voting age would only be lowered by one year, those opposed worry for immaturity at polls. Those in favor say it will inspire young peole to get involved in their communities, encourage immigrant parents to follow suit, and increase voting turnout, which has fallen below 20%. Pretty much a pathetic number.
High school students, graduates, and Lowell mayor Patrick Murphy met with governor Deval Patrick and various lawmakers on Tuesday to get support for the proposal, called Vote 17.
Mayor Murphy was opposed to the idea at first, but changed his opinion after meeting with the students. He stated, "The local school committee and city council make decisions affecting their education, so they should have a say in who the decision-makers are going to be."
They are hopeful that the measure will pass before July 31, when the legislative session comes to an end.
I wouldn't be too surprised if it was passed. Lowell has a long history as a center of youth rights. The city began as a factory town in the 1800's. Most of the workers in the textile mills were young girls.         
They worked an average of 73 hours a week with days stretching from 5:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. Windows were kept shut even in the height of summer and the air was filled with loose bits of cotton and thread. These poor conditions and pay cuts prompted strikes and walk-outs.
The conflict is now viewed as a landmark case in factory workers' and childrens' rights.
I hope that lawmakers pass Votes 17 and the cause can continue to influence youth suffrage movements across the nation and the world. But even if it doesn't pass, the teenagers of Lowell will be carrying on a legacy.

That Boy with the Red Hat, do You Love Him or Hate Him?

Credits: No idea. It was on google images, I can't draw nearly that well.
This is Holden.
He was born somewhere between 1945 and 1951 (depending on who you ask) at the age of sixteen.
Since then, over a dozen bands and artists have made allusions to him in songs, including Guns N' Roses, Green Day, Billy Joel, and even the Jonas Brothers.
Holden has quite the reputation as a troublemaker. He's been held responsible for John Lennon's assassination, a failed attempt on Ronald Reagen's life, and a couple hundred thousand fights between teenagers and their parents.
He's supposed to be this great icon of young rebellion.
But before all this, there was one book written about him.
You recognize this book, don't you? At least, the title sounds faintly familiar. I've heard about it for years-the title, I mean. I think that's how it works for most twentieth century classics. Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, whatever those are. Your intelligent friend brings it up and you can say, "Yes, I've heard of it."
I'd heard plenty of references to it myself. Then I joined goodreads and began seeing it on lists.
Best Books Ever
Books Everyone Should Read at Least Once
Disappointing Books
Best Young Adult Books
Everyone's Read it But Me
Read it Twice...at Least
1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Best Banned and/or Censored Books (or worst to have banned)
The Worst Books of All Time
I'm Glad Somebody Made Me Read This
Books I Regret Reading
Popular Books that Annoy You
Books that Blew Me Away and I Still Think About (of all types)
Read These in School...Would Have Preferred a Root Canal
That's most of page one. There are eighteen pages of lists. I had to read it, just to see what it was about. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground. Everybody either loves it or hates it. I wanted to know what the big deal was, especially since it's supposed to be one of the first books about teenage rebellion. You could even go as far to say it was one of the first books about teenagers.
Sure, there were thousands of books written before with characters in their teens, like Little Women. But the term "teenager" wasn't even coined until after WWII, so you can't say that book's about teenage girls. I mean, the title kind of says it all. And there's nothing in the book that makes it specifically for teenage girls. I read it when I was nine, but plenty of adults read it as well.
I've heard that young adult literaure didn't even exist until 1967, when S. E. Hinton published The Outsiders.
But Holden Caulfield came before her.
I read it, and I was kind of disappointed. Not because the book failed, but because it didn't excite me in either way. I'd expected it to either become a personal icon for me or something I'd consider burning and rant about to friends and strangers alike.
After finishing it, I decided the reason it had been called iconic for decades was that it was the first book to go there. The book's notorious for it's profanity. I think I found one page where it didn't swear once. According to the internet, it swears somewhere between 231 and 244 times.
I find that kind of funny. I imagine some teacher or concerned parent confiscating the book, and then marking it up themselves with a red pen, keeping a little tally sheet on the side. If you take a book written on white paper in black ink, go over it with a red pen, and then step back to see what you've done, all you'll see are red marks.
I'm not going to defend it for that. The way I saw it, that was the first book about a guy who walks around New York, smokes, gets drunk, attempts to flirt with women twice his age, goes back to his hotel room, and decides everybody there except him is a pervert.
Now all books have to be gritty. So it's not special anymore, I decided.
But it's also one of those books that stays in your head. I couldn't help but admit that Holden was a wonderfully complex character. Lots of books, you read them and you can't get attached to the main character because nothing goes on their head. I don't mean that they're stupid, but you just can't see their thoughts, only what they do.
Most of the book is Holden thinkning. There's the action of him talking and flirting and loosing the occassional fight. But mostly he thinks about ducks and rainbows in oil puddles and how he doesn't like anything except his sister Pheobe.

So maybe he is special after all.
If this book has a revolutionary quality aside from simply being the first to dare, it's in Holden's thoughts. His parents never appear in the story and he doesn't think about them as much as he does other things. He just mentions that they're rich. He does run away from boarding school, after he's been kicked out for failing too many classes and there are three days left until Christmas break. If Mark David Chapman and John Hinckley, Jr. carried around copies the day they tried to kill somebody, that's their problem.
Can it be held accountable for personal familiy rebellion? I'd say yes. I brought the book down from my bookshelf upstairs so I could look at parts while I wrote about it. My mom saw me on the stairs, swinging the book back and forth by one corner.
"Are you getting sucked in by the book now?"
"Why would you think that?"
"You're holding it."
And then there's my little brother, who looked over my shoulder while I inserted the picture of The Catcher in the Rye.
"Are you blogging about that swearing book?"
I think if you make something out to be a big deal, it'll be a big deal.
Generations of teenagers have loved and hated Holden Caulfield. It's been required reading in high schools and it's been banned in high schools.
I could tell you more. I could preach about Holden's family and urge to protect childhood innocence and his iconic red hunting hat. But you probably don't care.
And if you do care, you'd be better off reading it yourself.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I'll Call it Practice

So yesterday I was reading poetry with my ten year old brother. Well, I was reading it because I'd googled Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise" and proceeded to scroll through the rest of poemhunter.com's top twenty list. He just looked over my shoulder and provided thoughtful, sarcastic comentary. He does that a lot. Anyways, we got down to #21. I liked it, he liked making fun of me for liking it.

by Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.      

Love it, love it, love it. And now my brother has to buy me a red hat sometime in the next thirty five years.
I've thought before that I'm going to have a lot of fun when I'm sixty. You can get away with anything. Politicians are stupid and inexperienced because they don't have your decades of knowledge and didn't live through that one war and that other economic disaster. You can grab random teenage boys at intersections and force them to walk you across the street. You can be as opinionated as you want. You're allowed to backtalk anybody, and they just have to sit there and smile through it and say "Yes, ma'am." It's not even backtalk anymore-it's a well deserved lecture. Restaurants and movie theaters and places give you discounts. All the cool junk you've kept since you were a kid is no longer junk, it's an antique collection. People beg you to touch it and you can slap their fingers away if you don't want them to.
I want to be like my seventy-something former Sunday School teacher. She had our class for two years and was so fond of us by the end, she invitied us all to a John Wayne themed party in her John Wayne themed basement. With homemade apple pie.
I did a little research on the poem. And when I say research, I mean wikipedia. Jenny Joseph (that's her at the top) was twenty nine when she penned this famous poem, still young by most people's standards. The second line inspired an organization called the Red Hat Society. There are thousands of chapters in the US alone, as well as Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Greece, Guam, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxemburg, Mexico, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, and the UK.
Fashionable ladies getting together for tea parties and stuff
I wonder how much she did practice for her behavior in her old age. Can I do the same things-sitting down on the pavement and ringing alarm bells-and get away with it by calling it practice?
Yeah, probably not.
Lately I've been dreading growing older, mostly because I'm afraid I'll lose the opinions and ways I look at life now, that I'll just be another adult looking down on teenagers. Looking down, but never looking back.
Jenny Joseph has reminded me that I have something to look forward to. Warning, indeed!

"I never dared to be radical when young
For fear it would make me conservative when old."
-Robert Frost

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Teenage Look at Brave

Many of you have already seen Brave, a film different from Pixar's previous works. Female protagonist, Scottish setting, stunning images. Let me tell you-the animation is incredible. There are people at Pixar who's jobs were to design, draw, computerize, color, move, and control the lighting for Merida's hair.
The story itself stands outs. Cars, Monsters, Inc., and the Toy Story films are all intended as children's movies. Brave comes across as a coming of age film. 
Here's the brief, mostly spoiler free plot summary for those who haven't yet seen it:
Merida isn't your typical princess. Well, not by medieval standards. By modern media standards, it's not remarkable to see another princess who prefers running free in the woods to embroidery.

Though I have to say I've never seen a princess archer before. Impressive.
Naturally, Merida does not want to be married off to some barbaric lord, which causes conflict between her and Queen Elinor, her mother.
While blowing off steam on a gallop through the forest, Merida stumbles across a woodcarver/witch's cottage and a spell guaranteed to change her fate by changing her mother.
Unfortunately, it turns her into a bear.

So they embark on a quest to change her back, gaining a new appreciation for each other's differences, opinions, and strengths along the way.
Spoiler: Their mother-daughter relationship becomes stronger through the turmoil and everybody lives happily ever after.
Now that I'm done playing film critic, let's look at the movie from a teenage perspective.
Merida is a slightly stereotypical misfit rebel (For some reason, redheads are always the fiery, free-spirited girls. Probably because the rest of the population considers them a fascinating anomaly). And of course she's not going get along with her mom at first. She's a teenager, and this is a feel good family movie.
Yet she's not portrayed as a brat, but a sympathetic young woman with awesome archery skills. I know I'm not the only one making comparisons to Katniss.
My favorite scene comes about halfway through the movie. Elinor the Bear struggles to maintain her regal dignity in her new animal form by setting a breakfast table for the two of them using materials she has gathered from the forest. The endearing spread contains twigs used as utensils, leaves as napkins, and nightshade berries.
After Merida gently informs Elinor that the berries are poisonous and the water is filled with worms, she guides her to a nearby stream and teacher her mother how to catch and eat fish. "How do you know you don't like it if you won't try it?" Merida's ability to shoot fish out of the water forces her mother to grudgingly reconsider her opinion that princesses shouldn't own weapons, let alone use them.
Other moments of power include a scene where she gets her suitors and their brawling clans to agree that young people should have a say in their own fate. And that splitting arrow thing she does in the trailer.
Pixar is known for its lovable characters, heartwarming themes, and originality. What if cars could talk? How do toys feel when nobody plays with them? What if you could tie your house to balloons and float it to South America?
Though Brave lives down at least one of those traits, it's still a great story about a stereotyped teenager and a  well-meaning but misunderstanding mother seeing each other for who they really are. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

America Through My Own Eyes

When I was six, there was this TV show I liked called Liberty's Kids. It was about America's Revolutionary War, presented in a way that was supposed to be educational for children ages seven to fourteen. I liked the way I liked all the other educational television shows I watched as a child, because it was entertaining. That, and I knew all these facts about Phyllis Wheatley and Benedict Arnold the adults in my neighborhood didn't.
Nine years later, I could still remember two lines of the theme song. They came to mind every time I heard somebody's opinion of the economy, or read a snide comment at the bottom of a yahoo article, or came up with a strange and original thought myself.
How can I see it any other way?
I'm looking at life through my own eyes.
So I looked it up. I found this video. I must have watched it at least forty times since. Each time, I discover something new. A word, a picture, the number of seconds spent on that picture, breathes new meaning.
It's in English, and google won't translate that, but I think the words are something everyone needs to hear. So I'll put my favorite parts down here:
Yet still I know the truth will rise and fall
That's just the way it goes
A word now to the wise
The world was made to change
Each day is a surprise
Looking at life through my own eyes 
Searching for a hero to idolize
Feeling the pain as innocence dies
Looking at life
Through my own eyes
I'm hoping and praying for a brighter day
I listen to my heart and I obey
How can I see it any other way?
I'm looking at life through my own eyes.
And I know if you're looking for the truth
If you go and read between the lines
You'll discover how and why

lotrings1, who posted this nearly three years ago, included this statement under the video:
fell in love with this song the very first time i heard it back in 7th grade. It just has a real good message for everyone under the age of 35. I made this video for that age group because in these troubled times we need to stand up let our voices be heard. And look at life through our own eyes.

Do you know why Independence means? It means alone. So I encourage all of you to celebrate this Independence Day by coming up with an original idea and looking at life through your own eyes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Driven or Not

Yesterday yahoo ran an article entitled "Generation Y Not Driven to Drive." To sum it up, they put it down to laziness, high auto costs, and, believe it or not, technology.
Of course. If you're going to write an article about young people, you have to relate it to cell phones. To say they don't go hand in hand would involve revising our definitions of either technology or youth.
This paragraph bugs me particularly:
"That moment of realizing that you're a grown-up - for my generation, that was when you got your driver's license or car," said Tony Dudzik, a senior policy analyst of the Frontier Group, a California-based think tank that has studied this phenomenon. "For young people now, that moment comes when you get your first cellphone."
Cell phone is two words, not one, and it's not some rite of passage. Well, maybe it is for those of you who got your phone at twelve instead of fifteen. My "first" phone is my only phone, and it's a hand-me-down from my older brother. 
As for driving, it does annoy me when adults ask-and it's always adults-"Are you excited to get your license?" Partly because I get "excited" questions a lot. "Are you excited for high school? Are you excited to turn sixteen? Are you excited to go to college?"
I rarely ever get 'excited' about things in advance, including holidays. I'll acknowledge the days getting closer, but I don't feel anything special for them. The only things I can remember being excited for in the past six months are the weekend, the end of the school day, the Hunger Games movie, and summer. 
When I hear "driving", I don't imagine myself cruising down some highway in a personal car I can somehow afford on my own, hair blowing in the wind. I think of the forty hours of practice driving I have to do, and the summer driver's ed classes I haven't even signed up for yet. I have to take them over summer to fit in the classes I like, which means I have a deadline of sorts. It's very unlikely that I'll be able to get my license the day I turn sixteen, like most people envision. I don't know anybody who's gotten their license so soon.
Then there's the texting while driving stereotype. The only people I've ever seen doing it are adults. But then again, that's probably by default because most of my friends aren't even driving. 
But either way, stereotypes, however popular, don't always apply.