Some teenagers seem to have lost their way of citizenship, at least if it was compared to the ideas Shklar present. A few teenagers have become spoiled and earning, as well as voting, have become but a memory for most. Teenagers expect their parents to buy them everything and if they buy something that is not what they wanted or forgot to buy something after already being showered in gifts, they still complain and post it online, rather, than trying to find a job and earn their things and create a social standing among the community rather than their own selfish circles. These complaints are highest during Christmas. Here is a blog where teenagers and spoiled children complain about their many generous gifts. There is also one on Twitter and many other sites, but I do not have accounts in any of those other sites.
My class had been talking about Shklar and it flowed over to this last weeks lessons as we discussed Shklar’s themes within the book The Classic Slave Narratives, specifically Frederick Douglass’ account and a documentary called Poverty in Chicago . We cited various examples of Shklar’s citizenship meanings throughout the account and video, such as voting, earning, inclusion, and standing; also, ways to achieve citizenship through labor and education were discussed. Then, we restated who actually had citizenship and those who do not. I would think it safe to say that the few teenagers, much like the homeless, have lost their standing of citizenship or never even had it to begin with like Frederick Douglass. Unlike the teenagers, Frederick strove for citizenship. Many teenagers drop out of school for various reasons, some of it being “too difficult.” Frederick Douglass thought so too, but he kept going. He gave away his scarce amounts of food, risked being caught, and even got punished for trying to learn. He did not even get to go to a proper school. Some teenagers nowadays give up at the first sign of difficulty and willingly relinquish their right of education.
Furthermore, some teenagers think about living off their parent’s fortune instead of getting a job. At a Shklar standpoint, these teenagers would grow up to be non citizens because earning has become a lost merit. Some teenagers always claim that they will get a job but succumb to laziness or were never planning to get one. They blame it on the economy. There is a point to that argument, however, this merit dissipates when the teenager never even tried to fill out an application. Getting job or education and making one’s self known have become a lost ambition.
Voting has also become a lost cause among many teenagers. There is nothing that can be done for the underage, but teenagers who are 18+ do not vote simply because they do not know who the people they can vote for are and they do not know what the props are. More feasible reasons are, they are too busy or too lazy. Being too busy is understandable as teenagers may have school, work, and need to take care of other situations, but the latter is the more common reason. The time is not taken to research and go to the booth. Instead, the time is used to watch MTV.
Teenagers who stay out of Shklar’s model of citizenship tend to keep out during adulthood. The meaning of citizenship among teenagers have been lost and perhaps it’s time to put an emphasis on this concept before more teenagers lose it.