If someone were to tell you tomorrow that they were making decisions about you that would determine the course of your life, would you keep silent?
If they were taking dangerous risks and leaving you to face the consequences, would you trust things to work themselves out?
If they were spending huge amounts and leaving you with the bill, would you even consider doing nothing?
Of course not. None of us is that foolish – and yet nearly all the members of my generation are doing exactly that each and every day.
To paraphrase an old saying: You might not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.
“But what does politics have to do with me?” many of my peers undoubtedly are asking.
And on the surface, they might seem right.
President Bush is 60, the youngest member of Congress is 31, and Barack Obama, who has drawn great attention as a “young candidate,” is 45.
Many of you reading this cannot yet legally vote, and age limits bar teens from running for all but a few minor offices.
So why should you spend your time studying Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham rather than Tara Reid and Lindsey Lohan? Because while a drunken starlet’s bad decisions likely will affect only her, a legislator’s bad decision can directly affect us and our future.
We must be sure that our generation is represented in the halls of power and does not become a victim of legislators passing the buck and putting off problems until we have to deal with them.
In the near term, for example, laws are being passed that would restrict teen drivers and would change policies on student loans.
More crucially, it is vital that we make our voices heard now on issues such as global warming, pollution, immigration, terrorism and the war, because it is we who will pay the penalty for the policy decisions made today.
“All right . . . so what can I do?” you probably are asking. “More than you think,” would be the simple answer.
Teens can join groups – left, right and center.
For example, I am president of Youth For Change, a progressive advocacy group for teens.
If you’d prefer to learn about the political process from a non-partisan perspective, I strongly suggest the YMCA’s Youth and Government Program (I am a member of the Catalina delegation).
In this program, we assume the roles of legislators, lobbyists and journalists, debate the issues, write our own bills and then take over the state Capitol to debate and pass them in a mock Legislature event.
Descending into hard-core politics junkie-dom is not required, however. Nor is surrendering all of your free time.
Most organizations require no more than an hour or two a week, and I have always found that time very enjoyable.
There are almost certainly groups working on any issue that might interest you, from gay rights to the border to the war.
And if none of them suits you, start your own. I guarantee you’ll find members.
At the very least, please pay attention to what is going on and speak up when you see things going in the wrong direction.
After all, the stuff of C-SPAN may not hold the entertainment value of “American Idol” or an NCAA Tournament basketball game, but it stands a much better chance of actually affecting your life.
Teen columnist Colin Killick is a senior at Basis Tucson High School. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org