Friday, September 4, 2009

Of Adults

I remember one time I became engaged in a political argument with an adult online. It was just after Obama had won the election, and I expressed both my excitement about the breaking down of racial barriers and my disappointment that somebody who I disagreed with so much had been elected. It was probably the first time that I actually argued with an adult. Probably because it was the internet. I said some pretty stupid and embarrassing things. Of course, it was a completely pointless argument, neither of us were going to convince each other of anything. It really annoyed me at the time, but as soon as the guy found out that I was only sixteen, he refused to continue the argument. He said some pretty belittling things, "grow up a few years and we can continue this conversation." that kind of thing. It annoyed the heck out of me.

I kept wondering, why is it that my age makes my political philosophy any less valid. It's not like I came up with it.

I think the adults I most respect are the ones who admit that they don't have everything figured out. I'm old enough to understand that nobody knows it all. I - unlike my youngest siblings - have reached an age when I can no longer take comfort in the fact that "mom and dad know everything." Partly because they told me they don't know anything, partly because logic tells me that they can't know everything. Is that when you stop being a child? Does it happen when you realize that you don't and can't know everything, don't and can't have all the answers? When you know that nobody has or can have all the answers?

The only thing is, after that, everything got confusing. I can no longer blindly trust everything adults tell me, because now I know that they are every bit as fallible as I am. Now I find myself questioning adults, not because I disrespect them (I don't think) but because I no longer see them as possessors of all knowledge. This leads to problems.

Every time an adult tells me to do something, I ask why. Not only that, but if they can't give me a good reason to do it, I probably won't do it. Classic example, an adult told me that I needed to roll up my sleeves at Regionals. Why? Because Mrs. Hudson said so. Except that my respect for her authority did not cover apparently illogical commands. The same thing happened the year before with nametags. I just... if you can't answer "Why?", then screw your rules, I'm doing my own thing. That's a problem.

Being, as I am, a selfish human being, I don't handle authority very well. Especially authority who which tells me that they have all the answers and refuses to tell me what those answers are. I think my dad is the smartest man in the world. When he asks me to do something, I still ask him "Why?", and if he has a reason, he'll tell me. If he doesn't have a reason, instead of giving me a stupid one or telling me that he has one when he really doesn't, he just lets me know that he doesn't have an answer, other than that it is something that needs to get done.

I'm not sure how to fix my problem, especially when my problem is partly caused by other people's problems. I don't want to blindly follow authority, but I feel that this constant questioning of it is not what I'm supposed to do. I probably need to get better at finding the proper forum for questioning authority. But if there isn't one, I'm not sure what to do. I don't have an answer for that, because I don't have all the answers.

1 comment:

  1. I could have written this post. Well...probably not literally or with all the correct punctuation, but I sympathize with this post one hundred percent down to the name tag thing. Except...I've argued (classically) with adults plenty of times. The best ones are indeed the ones who treat you like people first, and don't flaunt their experience or age to feel superior. Ugh...seriously, I have this exact problem. Now you can shame me for wasting fifteen minutes reading your blog and writing a comment when I should be writing (just seven thousand or so more words today!)