The Dangers of Ignorance
The worst problem facing our nation at this time is the amount of young people who have a lack of interest concerning politics. Because of their ignorance, they make assumptions and decisions that could be dangerous in years to come. Young people are the next generation of voters, politicians, and writers that will shape our country's future with the decisions and career choices they make. If they are unaware now about their country's issues, they will be uninformed and uneducated in the years to come when their influence is called upon. This is an urgent issue in our society today that must be remedied.
This ignorance is born of a lack of caring and the influence of their peers. My generation is more concerned about what they are going to wear to school the next day than who will be our next president or who they will vote for once they are old enough. Why should they care? It's not their problem. Politics belong to the grown-ups to deal with. If none of their friends care about the next presidential election, why should they bother? In Los Gatos, California, the city clerk’s office has been sending birthday notes with reminders to vote to citizens turning 18. “It's always a problem to get young people who turn eighteen to think about registering to vote,” says senior deputy city clerk Marlyn Rasmussen. "They think about getting a car, going to college, starting a job, and looking at boys and girls. Voting is not one of their priorities.” (Happy Birthday!...) What these young people do not realize, and are not informed, is that soon the decisions that
have to be made will be theirs. Because they have not been prepared to deal with those issues, their decision-making abilities will be severely compromised.
According to Stacy Teicher, a writer for the Christian Science Monitor, this issue is not a recent one. Her article, “Even If Any Kid Could Be the President, Few Would Want To” clearly illustrates this.
“Teenagers' interest in politics has been declining steadily since the late 1960s, according to researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles. In their nationwide study of first-year college students, they found that 25.9 percent think it is very important or essential to keep up with political affairs, down from a peak of 57.8 percent in 1966. Only 14 percent say they frequently discuss politics.[…] Some, like Ben Pellerin in Rapid City, S.D., say the job requires "too much responsibility." Soccer and skateboarding, not politics, are the main interests for this ninth grader. Andres Olaya, another young teen, says he wouldn't want to have to make so many decisions that would disappoint people or invite criticism.” (Even If…)
On a brighter note, not all teenagers are like this. After interviewing several of the girls on my floor, more encouraging results were found. Elizabeth Stanley, my room-mate, has been interested in politics from a young age. Her family encouraged her to investigate and form her own opinions on political matters. Kayla Basto was in a similar situation from a young age, during election time she was encouraged by her parents to learn about the two candidates and decide who she supported. She and another girl, Kristen Bradley, were both home schooled, which also contributed to their interest.
Instead of being fed whatever the school system believed, they were able to form their own opinions though exercises and projects in their curriculum.
Another dangerous fault of young people is that most of them automatically agree with whatever their parents think, and what they see and hear from the media. This can be a dangerous issue in the aspect of politics. If their parents are Democrats, the children themselves automatically assume they are Democrats as well. They do not take the time to think for themselves and decide what they really believe. Parents do not often press their children to think and act independently, and as a result children grow up with the same world view as whoever brought them up. They do not realize that they can think; make their own decisions about the world. Media is also a huge influence. This generation is constantly plugged into all things electronic, and since most of the news is both distinctly and discreetly liberal, young people unconsciously develop liberally skewed world views. Instead of developing their own world view, they absorb what is around them and unconsciously develop a world view that is not truly their own. When asked about current political issues, many of my friends will parrot what they have heard and seen on the television. If I press them with further questions, they are unable to think for themselves and answer me with deductions of their own.
Ignorance of young people today is an imminently serious problem. This generation is the future, and the future will be in jeopardy if something is not done to remedy this carelessness. Perhaps the change will have to start with the young people themselves. We need to realize our place in the world, and take steps to insure our decisions and places in the oncoming years will be purely out of our own intelligent thought and design. The first step to avoiding this bleak future is to use the school system to more effectively educate teenagers. Schools are not opening up enough options for teenagers who are interested in politics. Most of my friends slept their way through high school, unconcerned about their future careers. Once they graduate, all of a sudden, they have to figure out what they want to do with their life, after four years of learning things that they don’t need to know. High school needs to be more adaptable to the specific intelligence of different kids. In this way, the kids who show promise and interest can be groomed and prepared at an earlier age.
Although most of the change should depend on the teenagers themselves, positive parental influence is also a deciding factor. Children who were pressed to become interested in politics at a young age are far more likely to be well informed teenagers and young adults. A young adult who can consciously investigate the standings and opinions of major political figures is an invaluable figure in society. A well-informed young adult will go on to become a well-informed adult, and whether or not they are directly involved in politics, their influence will be called upon. While voting may seem like a somewhat insignificant act, every citizen is called to cast their vote in order to decide who leads this country. Beyond voting, soon a new generation of journalists and politicians will rise up; both very influential positions that will make and help make major decisions for our country. It is my prayer that my generation will realize this issue and rise up out of their ignorance to take their place in this country as well-informed, intellectual citizens.
"Happy Birthday! Ready to vote?." Christian Science Monitor 90.229 (21 Oct. 1998): 7. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. [Library name], [City], [State abbreviation]. 3 Sep. 2009 <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=1189443&site=ehost-live>.
Teicher, Stacy A. "Even if any kid could be president, few want the job." Christian Science Monitor 91.65 (02 Mar. 1999): 3.Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. [Library name], [City], [State abbreviation]. 1 Sep. 2009 <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=1584090&site=ehost-live