A cause worth fighting for


Alara Stewart, Editor

It’s clear that across many cultures we value the wisdom and opinions of our elders. This expectation and value has been passed down through generations coining the phrase “respect your elders.” Although a person can gain so much knowledge over a lifetime, there are still plenty of ways one can be ignorant with that infinite knowledge. With this being said, in politics, day to day conversations, school, etc. it’s vital that we as an American culture take a step back and recognize the importance of youth voices because our ideas and experiences reflect the thinking of today’s generation. It’s impossible to create, solve problems, run government offices and more without the help and ideas of young people. By pushing this narrative that we must respect our elders, society took it to an extreme to relay the message that youth voices do not matter and are therefore minimizing what young people have to say. It may not seem relevant but by incorporating the youth perspective into all aspects of life we would see a drastic change in the world. 

The movement of empowering young people has become more popular over recent years as people have realized that there is a lack of age diversity in political offices. America has hit a point where it is politically stuck; meaning that our political parties refuse to cooperate and oppose one another out of spite. It’s time to bring in new ideas and perspectives instead of re-electing the same people that have been in office for years and hold onto ideas of the past. We can see that some of our most powerful voices come from young people in politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or powerful movements against gun violence in schools or climate change; to bring it closer to home, students within our schools that take initiative to fight for what they believe in and educate or express themselves through leadership. It’s arguable that Generation Z is lazy and internet crazy however it’s unfair to look past the power of the internet and generalize. The internet is one of the most powerful tools in this day and age; it can be used for negative and unproductive things, however it’s ability to reach the masses and influence people is a tool that young people know how to use best.

Not only are we equipped to lead but we are naturally motivated to make change since our future is on the line. Whether that motivation is out of fear or the desire to “make the world a better place,” we are one of the most determined yet stubborn groups of people. Being underestimated by our elders only makes us more defiant and increases our inclination to stand up for what we believe in. In some ways this is helpful, however it would be more productive if our culture accepted the ideas of young people. Young people are going to be the ones facing the climate crisis in the near future; the ones that will be fighting to systemically breakdown racism; the ones that will be solving the hunger crisis; the ones that will be controlling and containing potential pandemics; the ones that will protect everyone’s right to education; the ones that will give women the right to control their own bodies; the ones that will be cleaning up the older generations mess. There is already so much pressure and anxiety provoking news that young people must deal with and live with, where not many people in power are succeeding at solving them. It’s up to us to create the change the world needs, but that can’t be done unless our voices are heard and put into action.

The importance of youth voices is not only about activism and big picture ideas; it’s also about being able to express oneself. Students oftentimes struggle feeling heard but learning how to utilize their voice in a way that is empowering to them and not harmful to others can be self rewarding and influence their peers to use their voice. Practicing this from an early age will help prepare children and teens for disagreements and discourse as these are at the root of our democracy under the First Amendment. It’s easy to acknowledge the other party’s [elders] responsibility in the belittling of youth voices , but sometimes we stand in our own way. By overcoming fears and stigmas surrounding the significance of our voices, we can see a tremendous difference in society through a more open and welcoming culture and an increase in activism throughout the country. 

This is not to create a war between generations, but to call action to the dismissal of youth voices. The elder generation’s voices are just as valuable; however, not listening to the voices of a group of people that will actually live through the struggles of the future is not wise and is counterproductive. Just by changing American culture’s narrative of feeling embarrassed to express oneself or feeling pressured to fit into normalcy, young people will begin to feel even more empowered. As previously mentioned, being outspoken is a backbone of this country. If we are the ones that must confront the problems of our future, why are our voices innately disparaged? Instead of backing down it’s time for the world to hear what not just a few young people have to say, but what we as a collective are trying to convey. Finding this voice may be challenging to some, but it’s a challenge worth fighting for.