You’re an adult now. If you are reading this, you are likely a high school graduate. You probably have a myriad of burgeoning adult responsibilities.
Maybe you pay for your car insurance or rent or credit card. It’s possible you simply take care of a vehicle, pay for gasoline, or buy your clothes. Or it may simply be not living with Mom and Dad, not having hot, homemade meals, fresh laundry and all the gas money your Velcro wallet can handle.
Whatever it may be, your guardians have passed on some kind of responsibility to you, or they will soon. Be sure: four years go by fast, and so do five or six.
With this new territory should come a new sense of being. With new responsibilities should come the keen sense that your personal success, the state of your community and the continued expression of human rights rest on the collective shoulders of humankind — including yourself. I’m not asking you to become a cynical, condescending ideologue without a sense of humor.
I’m trying to tell you that your thoughts should be expanded to accommodate new information and points of view.
Correspondingly, you should be absorbing such things in order to create your own opinion. Supplementing this new opinion should come the resolve to act for the improvement of the place you inhabit.
The time has come for you to graduate on to bigger ideas (while still maintaining some silly, light hearted interests, hobbies and discussions).
The new ideas you should begin considering are not concrete. You make the conclusions and formulate further questions by simply asking yourself this set of questions—and these are so obvious they slip by unnoticed when people lecture you on adulthood. Part of this could be that these folks have not, themselves, contemplated such questions.
Here they are. Right here: Do you have an opinion on things that really count toward your and your community’s physical and mental well-being? Can you defend that opinion? If you cannot, will you work to formulate a new hypothesis and explore it? Will you ever actively do something to further the outward actions of this opinion?
Example. Volunteer on a river clean-up, boycott the organizations you despise, donate to campaigns and learn enough to be eloquent and factual in your defense of politics, religion, pop culture, etc.
Because if you can’t and if you don’t, you shouldn’t be here, in college. In fact, you should never even be considered for promotion to head clerk at the Valero station in Earlimart or the Dollar General in Madera because those jobs, like any other work experience worth money, require responsibility.
If the only things you have an opinion on and the only things you plan to have an opinion on are Kimye, Xbox, Miley Cyrus, “The Bachelor,” the MLB, “Sports Center,” etc., you should be embarrassed and ashamed. Why? Because you are not responsible for how you think, and thus will become a burden to me and other Americans. You obviously care more about arbitrary nonsense than you do about your and your fellow humans’ physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
(Disclaimer: if you care about the aforementioned nonsense AND formulate educated thoughts regarding things that matter, you are off the hook, and I respect you and your silly dalliances. After all, my favorite TV show is “King of the Hill” and I probably quote “Mean Girls,” “Talladega Nights” and “The Office” far more often than any person should. In other words, I’m going out on a limb with this and I may fall headfirst into a steaming pile of my own hypocrisy, but bear with me.)
When you don’t consider your place in the American body politic, then you don’t have to ask yourself questions, and thus you don’t have to be responsible, for finding answers. When you refuse to be responsible you don’t have to wonder about things like: “Do non-profit community organizations really improve low income neighborhoods?”
Or, “Are state and federal environmental regulations and county zoning laws hurting small business?”
Or, “Do agricultural subsidies create unbalanced, volatile markets, thus making businesses that should have failed the tax burden of the working class?”
Or, “Should we place troops in Afghanistan?” Or, “Didn’t President Obama promise to take troops out of Afghanistan and close Guantanamo Bay?”
Or, “What is Guantanamo Bay?” Or, “Should my government be giving aid to a war torn bastion of fundamental extremism and totalitarianism called Syria?” Or, “Why does the Christian Right care more about stopping abortions and fighting marriage equality than they do about sending American troops to war?”
Or, “Do teachers unions actually deplete state funds and education spending with their incessant call for bigger pensions?”
Or, “Should we be depleting California’s water resources by allocating millions of gallons to massive desert farming operations and land development?”
Why am I on a soapbox today? Just google “news, USA.” Some place called Syria is falling apart. Russia toys with our government, and U.S. agents are leaking secrets (which may or may not be a bad thing). Immigration and the future of undocumented residents still loom large, and the future of our economy (especially our state’s) still looks fairly grim for at least another five years.
You don’t need to care, though. Not when three solid hours of “The Real Housewives,” “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Pawn Stars” are on TV. Not when you are consumed with some infantile Tumblr debate about “Doctor Who” or the virtues of Marvel Comics. Not when some talentless socialite is pregnant and possibly wearing an unflattering dress. Not when you just got the first six seasons of “Family Guy” on DVD.
Because all of that matters, and nothing else—as long as that’s how you see it. So please, keep thinking that what you do and the way you think will never have an effect on anyone else. Please keep thinking this way, while I and every other self-actualized, hard working adult sees you for what you are: a child.
Please, only have an opinion on the aforementioned pop culture drudgery. After all, you are only a taxpayer or future taxpayer. The last thing on your mind will be what actually happens to that money, or what specifically will become of your neighbors’ jobs. Doesn’t matter. You have memes to look at. You have rude, loose housewives to watch and muscly, sweating men in pads to ogle.