Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Hope For the Future of America

Recently one of the news channels did an informal survey on a college campus to get a read on how much students value their right to vote. The results made me want to throw myself on the floor and wail. Actually, I think I did. They expressed a lot of apathy about voting, but here's the kicker: More than one student--with a straight face and on national TV--indicated that he would be willing to give up his right to vote, not just in this election, but for all time. . .for a new I-pod. For a new I-pod. No, I'm not kidding.

My black despair over this state of affairs was short-lived, however, once I remembered my American government class at Fideles Christian School in Cumming, Georgia. This group of twelve 12th graders has given me hope for America's future more than once, but never more than in their attitude toward their own right to vote. Those among them who will be 18 years old in time to vote are ecstatic about it. Those who won't be old enough are dashed.

For example, Jared, who will turn 18 just a few days after the general election, was so disappointed about missing his chance to vote that his mother told him that he could decide her vote if he would study the candidates and make a well-informed decision. He has poured over news reports and candidates' websites until he knows more about them than any five adults I know. Amanda, the sole 11th grader in the class, has a deeper understanding of national issues than most adults. Mark, who isn't even in my class, still drops by and chimes in when we have Friday political and current events discussions. When I walked into class on Super Tuesday, the first question was, "Who did you vote for, Ms. Thraves?"

Every one of these young people really care about the future of our nation and understand and value the role that voting plays in determining that future. For them it is a right of passage into adulthood, but even more, into American citizenship, which they know enough to cherish.

On Tuesday, their graduation caps and gowns arrived. They were all trying them on, trying to figure out how the mortar board goes, and taking pictures. In the midst of that hubbub, the reality of graduation dawned on some of them, and with eyes like deer in headlights, several muttered, "This is scary." They may be scared, but I am not scared for them. In fact, I rejoice that they are about to be unleashed on the world. For I know that, by the grace of God, they will do it only good. They, and young people like them across the country, are my hope for the future of these United States.

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