Michael Moore is an Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author
Dear High School Students:
How inspired are you by the thousands of students from Wisconsin high schools who began walking out of class four days ago and have now occupied the State Capitol building and its grounds in Madison, demanding that the governor stop his assault on teachers and other government workers? I have to say it's one of the most exciting things I've seen in years.
We are, right now, living in an amazing moment of history. And this moment has happened because the youth around the world have decided they've had enough. Young people are in revolt -- and it's about time.
You, the students and young adults, from Cairo, Egypt to Madison, Wisconsin, are now rising up, taking to the streets, organizing, protesting and refusing to move until your voices are heard. Effing amazing!! It has scared the pants off those in power, the adults who were so convinced they had done a heckuva job trying to dumb you down and distract you with useless nonsense so that you'd end up feeling powerless, just another cog in the wheel, another brick in the wall. You've been fed a lot of propaganda about "how the system works" and so many lies about what took place in history that I'm amazed you've been able to sort through all the bs and see the truth for what it is. This was all done in the hopes you would just keep your mouths shut, get in line and follow orders. And don't rock the boat. Because if you do, you could end up without a good job! You could end up looking like a freak! You've been told politics isn't cool and that one person really can't make a difference.
And for some beautiful, unknown reason, you've refused to listen. Maybe it's because you've figured out that we adults are about to hand you a very empty and increasingly miserable world, with its melting polar ice caps, its low-paying jobs, its incessant war machine, and its plan to put you in permanent debt at age 18 with the racket known as college loans.
On top of that, you've had to listen to adults tell you that you may not be able to legally marry the person you love, that your uterus isn't really yours to control, and that if a black guy somehow makes it into the White House, he must've entered illegally from Kenya.
Yet, from what I've seen, the vast majority of you have rejected all of this crap. Never forget that it was you, the young people, who made Barack Obama president. First you formed his army of election volunteers to get him the nomination. Then you came out in record numbers in November of 2008. Did you know that the only age group where Obama won the white vote was with 18-29-year-olds? The majority of every white age group over 29 yrs. old voted for McCain -- and yet Obama still won! How'd that happen? Because there were so many youth voters of all races -- a record turnout that overcame the vast numbers of fearful white adults who simply couldn't see someone whose middle name was Hussein in the Oval Office. Thank you young voters for making that happen!
Young people elsewhere in the world, most notably in the Middle East, have taken to the streets and overthrown dictatorial governments without firing a shot. Their courage has inspired others to take a stand. There's a huge momentum right now, a youth-backed mojo that can't and won't be stopped.
Although I've long since left your age group, I've been so inspired by recent events that I'd like to do my bit and lend a hand. I've decided to turn over a part of my website to high school students so they -- you -- can have the opportunity to get the word out to millions more people. For a long time I've wondered, how come we don't hear the true voices of teenagers in our mainstream media? Why is your voice any less valid than an adult's?
In high schools all across America, students have great ideas to make things better or to question what is going on -- and often these thoughts and opinions are ignored or silenced. How often in school is the will of the student body ignored? How many students today will try to speak out, to stand up for something important, to simply try to right a wrong -- and will be swiftly shut down by those in authority, or by other students themselves?
I've seen students over the years attempt to participate in the democratic process only to be told that high schools aren't democracies and that they have no rights (even though the Supreme Court has said that a student doesn't give up his or her rights "when they enter the schoolhouse door").
It's always amazed me how adults preach to young people about what a great "democracy" we have, but when students seek to be part of it, they are reminded that they are not full citizens yet and must behave somehow as indentured servants. Is it any wonder then why some students, when they become adults, don't feel like participating in our political system -- because they've been taught by example for the past 12 years that they have no say in the decisions that affect them?
We like to say that we have this great "free press," and yet how free are high school newspapers? How free are you to write or blog about what you want? I've been sent stories from teenagers that they couldn't get published at school. Why not? Why must we silence or keep out of sight the voice of our teenagers?
It's not that way in other countries. The voting age in places like Austria, Brazil or Nicaragua is 16. In France, students can shut down the country by simply walking out of school and taking to the streets.
But here in the U.S. you're told to obey and to basically butt out and let the adults run the show.
Let's change that! I'm starting something on my site called, "HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER." Here you will be able to write what you want and I will publish it. I will also post those articles that you've tried to get published at your school but were turned down. On my site you will have freedom and an open forum and a chance to have your voice heard by millions.
I've asked my 17-year-old niece, Molly, to kick things off by editing this page for the first six months. She will ask you to send her your stories and ideas and the best ones will be posted on MichaelMoore.com. I'll give you the platform you deserve. It will be my honor to have you on my site and I encourage you to take advantage of it.
You are often called "our future." That future is today, right here, right now. You've already proven you can change the world. Keep doing it. And I'd be honored to help you.
P.S. When can you get started? Right now! Just go here and register. (You can use a made-up name if you want and you don’t have to name your school.) Then once you’re done, start submitting blogs, music, video and more!
P.P.S. If you’re reading this and not in high school, please take a second and forward it to all the students you know.
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