Opinion

As our country loses its way, younger generations pay the price

As I get older and my awareness grows, I’ve started to wonder what values America expresses to the world. 

When America first formed, it was founded on the principles of freedom and democracy and to demonstrate to the world that a nation can abide and prosper under these ideals. The older this nation becomes, though, the more these principles appear to have been altered in ways to benefit not even the majority of people but a few select groups. When we erode America’s ideals, instead of demonstrating strong principles to other nations, we show at best how loosely we follow them.

People in other nations are probably surprised at how poorly America demonstrates democracy with its current dysfunctional government. We are failing to come to agreement in solving basic, yet urgent issues with government budgeting. Maybe others are perturbed with how heavily America focuses on countries with valuable resources and leaves those without resources entirely out of the picture. Many people question how the United States, the second- largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world and a well-known consumer of world resources, can stubbornly refuse to reduce consumption and emissions or even prepare a plan of action against looming, worldwide environmental catastrophe. 

The world’s nations may wonder how Americans, with almost endless amounts of freedom, have come to accept this. The truth is that we really don’t have that much choice: We can only choose between two major political parties. When it comes to taxes and businesses, most laws and regulations are set in favor of the top two percent of Americans (making as much as the other 98 percent combined) and big businesses that make trillions of dollars in profits. 

When it comes to education, most school systems are facing drastic cuts to their budget. School systems aren’t the only ones that are suffering. NASA’s last launch of its space shuttle program was on July 8, after being told to close the program down because it is too expensive — even though it consumes a measly eight-tenths of one penny from each taxpayer to explore “the final frontier.”

Besides NASA, the Enviro-nmental Protection Agency (struggling to prevent negligent companies like BP from destroying even more of the environment and the jobs related to it) and the National Park Service (protecting our national parks, such as Yosemite and Yellowstone) are also facing cuts.

When I was younger, cutting things like children’s education was unheard of, as it was considered vital that we maintain an educated workforce to keep America a strong player in the world economy. Considering where the money that used to go into my education is likely going, maybe education isn’t America’s highest priority. 

Our nation’s endlessly increasing number of wars requires an unfathomable amount of money and large numbers of people (troops) to fight them. “To die for your country” doesn’t require a high school diploma, and at the rate teachers are being laid off due to lack of funding, a high school diploma isn’t worth nearly as much as it used to be. 

If funding our wars in the Middle East (home to countries that just happen to have control over a large percentage of the world’s oil resources) is given priority over funding my public education, then America is putting an unsustainable, environmentally destructive resource before my generation’s ability to shape our future and hold decent jobs. 

What should America represent? Well, if you sit back and don’t take action, then Americans will continue to be regarded internationally as not representing their founding principles and instead be known for being greedy and thoughtless toward other people. 

Choosing to educate yourself about current national events and taking action by joining clubs, sending letters or rallying helps to protect the things you think America should exemplify. Imagine an America where people take action and care. We could become a proud world leader again.

 

— Nathan Williams, 15, will be entering ninth grade in the fall.

 

 

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