Current events - what?

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— I thought that when I turned 18, along with the keys to a new Range Rover, I would be automatically enlightened on the state of world and current events. Needless to say, the Range Rover didn't happen, and apparently the voting age doesn't come with a handbook concerning politics.

I was left clueless, as I have been for the past few years, on much of what is happening in my own world. Many teens, myself included, seem unaware of the state of the world and the people who run it.

President George Bush was elected to office when I was 11. The United States entered the War in Iraq when I was in eighth grade. These important events happened when my only concern was when the new 'NSync album was released.

It's daunting to have to learn about past events to feel able to keep up with today's news. And where do I start? Local news would most directly deal with me, but world news seems more important. There is health, business and technology sub-category news to further intimidate a beginner to current events.

Instead of taking on this enormous task, many teens take the easier route of adopting their parents' political policies and ideas. It is only natural for teens to believe in certain controversial issues in the same way their parents do, based on how they were raised. But have those teens really done their research or are they simply repeating what they have been told is right or wrong? Are their opinions educated decisions for themselves or, more likely, convenient answers to questions about politics?

I admire the students in class who can readily contribute to a current events debate. They are the same students who have countdowns on their Myspace pages until Bush is out of office or the proud owner of a car with a Bush/Cheney '04 sticker on the bumper. They prove it's possible to learn about politics in high school.

We defy our parents and teachers frequently, and sometimes willingly. Why shouldn't we also defy the stereotype of an air-headed teenager and educate ourselves in politics? How would your parents feel to see you compete with their political ideas or provide an intelligent explanation to backing your views?

That's it, I'm turning off MTV and switching to CNN.

Erin Gleason is a senior at Steamboat Springs High School and an intern for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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