Story by Madelyn Smith
I am sitting in class, working on my assignment, watching the minutes pass by. I hear small talk, mostly mundane topics like sports and weekend plans. Then I hear a name, Greta Thunberg. It is a name I had heard online here and there; she is a 16-year-old climate change activist from Stockholm, Sweden. Though I was not fully informed of her entire plan, I was educated on her end goals, her beliefs.
The teacher interjects the conversation with his opinion: “She’s only what — 14? I’m not going to listen to a child tell me how to live my life. I’ve already lived most of mine; she has barely any experience to be talking to adults like that.”
That is the problem — he has lived his life and we have yet to live our own, it only makes sense that a young girl like Thunberg is so concerned about our Earth and the time we have left on it.
I silently disagree and wish to say my point aloud, but the bell rings, time to go to my next class, and my opinion won’t be voiced, until now.
As the younger generation, we’ve always been told to stay silent on “adult” topics, told to be seen and not heard, but now more than ever we need the voices of the future to speak out.
A further example as to what I am talking about is a girl by the name of Jaclyn Corin. Corin was one of the organizers of the March For Our Lives demonstration in Washington and a leader of the Never Again MSD activist movement. Corin was a victim of gun violence, in a school shooting a close friend of hers as well as classmate of hers were killed. This occurrence pushed her to speak out, and many who disagreed or did not take her seriously blamed her age. When she led the March For Our Lives demonstration she was 17 years old, and despite the simple fact that she had lived the experience she was trying to prevent, people still dismissed her saying she didn’t know what she was talking about.
I myself and many others have tried to voice our opinions on certain topics to adults and have been flat out told that we are wrong or misinformed. People always tend to assume just because we are younger means that we are automatically naive and unaware of important topics and current events. As a student journalist I have learned how to research and quote reputable sources so what’s so different when I am using those skills to prove my point to an adult? Is it instantly deemed unreliable just because it is heard from a “child?”
Our generation is very well known for speaking our minds on whatever topic is relevant at the time, whether that it is gun control, LGBTQ+ rights and equality, censorship, climate change, politics, and so much more.
Seeing people from this generation speak up about this is very inspiring to younger individuals who wish to make a change. Thunberg and Corin both possess true bravery and willingness to show their views to others who do not want to listen. Their tender ages of 16 and 17 did not stop them from speaking about an issue they felt passionate about. Age shouldn’t be a factor, whether you are 12 or 18-years-old, you have the right to an opinion, that is the beauty of the first amendment. And with that, we will become the voices of tomorrow, and the future to come, if only we were listened to.