For AP English
today, our assignment was to write and deliver to the class a speech to the graduates
. Most people wrote typical speeches about how much they will miss their classmates or how we need to seize the day
(A big theme of this year's English class). This is my go at the speech, which is anything but typical.
Node your homework!
Graduates of 2002, parents, friends, and the teeming masses
lining the red carpet
- shut up and listen.
The motto of our parent's generation was "Turn on, tune in, drop out." To them, this was a call to turn on your minds, tune in to what was happening, and drop out of this current warped system. They saw problems with the way things were, and they wanted to remold that broken society for the better. To them, those words were a call to activity, and to activism.
Today, 35 years later, this slogan is equally applicable. Though the facade of the words remain, their inner workings, the phrase's meaning, has changed. Today, America's youth could not possibly care less about the environment. Today, America's youth have no interest what-so-ever in social issues. Today, America's youth are completely ignorant of the country's political situation. Our parents should be ashamed of us.
The words that inspired our parents to activity now represent our apathy. The collective America has turned on the TV, tuned in to the shallow dribble that populates it, and let their brain drop out the back of their head. The American has become ignorant of its environment, preferring to live in a contented, scripted bliss.
Graduates of 2002, you must break this pattern.
By sheer luck, we have been afforded some of the greatest opportunities in history. By being born in America, we possess more liberties and rights than any other population since time began. But with the freedoms listed in the 1st Amendment, come comparable responsibilities. We have the freedom to criticize the government, and we have the duty to do so most scathingly. We have the freedom to observe the inner workings of our political machine, and we have the duty to do so frequently and persistently. We have the freedom to vote, to have a say in our governing, and we have the duty to do so faithfully, and intelligently.
Most of you are, or will be shortly, eligible to vote. With the granting of that right, you assume the obligation to participate in your own manipulation. In the last presidential election, barely half of the voting population fullfilled this obligation. In the last French presidential election, 80% of those eligible to vote did so. Newspapers commented on the low turn out. What is a poor turn out for them is over 150% of the American one - And we invented this system.
It is not enough simply to vote; voting is worthless if it is not an informed act. With the chance, the freedom, to have a say in the government comes the responsibility to justify what you are saying. Votes must be cast based on information and rationale, not whim and emotion. I know one person who claims she would have voted for Bush based solely on that she thinks he is cute. She is proud of the fact that she would have used up her single voice on such a petty and worthless consideration. This, the selection of the leadership based on superficial concerns, is a dangerous attitude which, from what I have seen, is rapidly spreading across America.
Ladies and gentlemen, if we do not choose our government, someone else will. Big Business is more than willing, indeed chomping at the bit, to bend Congress and the Presidency to its sole and singular good. They have already made some headway in this goal, in the form of restrictive legislation such as the DMCA and the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act, laws which benefit only billion dollar corporations such as Disney and Fox. These companies have bought their way into your government. The American people must make a concerted effort to break free of the anesthetizing programming designed to mold the country into a docile mass that will let these companies have their way with America. We must take back this country, this Nation by, for, and of the people.