Last week, after an especially grueling lesson in math, there were a few minutes left of class, so my teacher sat down on one of the desks and just talked to us for a while. Somehow, we got on the topic of cartoons. Apparently, he doesn't let his kids (ages 4 and 6 or something like that) watch cartoons because he doesn't think it's fair to let them watch one thing - violence - and expect them to behave differently - nonviolence. It's a fair argument. I personally can't fathom childhood without Tom & Jerry and Roadrunner, but I guess there's still Veggie Tales.
Little kids aren't the only ones who copy the people and situations around them. Despite all the flak teenagers get for being rebellious and all that, I think there's also a deep desire in teenagers to imitate the respected adults around them. We want to be adults (because let's face it, nobody wants to be sixteen), so we act like the adults in our lives. Because maybe, just maybe, people will start treating us like adults.
And what do adults do now? Well, it seems like all the cool adults are busy getting sucked up into politics (admittedly, there's a lot to get sucked up into). "You're a republican, you must want slavery back because we can't CHANGE things!" "You're a democrat, you must want to turn us all into robots who are controlled by Comrade Obama!" If you're with it, you're picking a side and flinging rotten tomatoes at the other side. Meanwhile, the teenagers of the world spend seven hours a day in school learning how to be tolerant.
But which do you think a teenager is more anxious to imitate? Joe Do-gooder on page 274 of the Tolerance Textbook, or the adults in their lives who shove opinions around and the adults on TV who get glorified for bashing the other side?
So this is a shout-out to the adults of the world. I'm not asking you to reserve judgment. I'm asking you to step up to your role in society as the models for how people of my generation (the teenagers) should act. By all means, debate away! I love hearing both sides of an argument. But please respect each other. Please pretend like you remember the other side is full of humans, too. Please be respectful, if only to teach us obnoxious teenagers how to be respectful.
I know that a person, even a teenager, can always choose how to act, and that choice can be completely independent of the world around them. However, as my math teacher might say, I don't think it's fair to show a kid one way to live - disrespect - and expect them to grow up behaving differently.
So, as a recap, make an effort. Try to be civil. I want to hear adults arguing, but I want to hear an argument that includes facts and logic and mutual respect, not one made up of nothing but insults and relation to communism. Please give us to look up to that's worth mimicking.