As we celebrate Independence Day, I ponder again how much like a teenager our country can be. Both have been given lots of freedoms – and both can have problems dealing with those freedoms responsibly.
For example, when our founding fathers touted freedom of speech, they never dreamed it would be used to permit pornography in public libraries or atheist banners flying over the city on the Fourth of July. In the same way, teens discover how powerful their words can be and use them to hurt others to gain power for themselves. Or they exercise their freedom to swear in order to feel older and tougher.
Or how about the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Many Americans have landed in jail for their schemes in pursuing happiness for themselves. Teens push for their right to liberty, and sometimes it seems as if all they care about is their own happiness.
And then there’s the right to a trial by jury. Most, if not all, Americans cling to that right (though most Americans also fear the dreaded jury summons). The teen version sounds like so: “I swear I didn’t do it! You can even ask Brittany – she’ll tell you I didn’t do it!”
However, in the same way I won’t give up on the USA ever straightening things out, I refuse to give up on teens getting their acts together. By the world’s standards, our country is still a young’un at the tender age of 235. By anyone’s standards, a 15-year-old is still much closer to childhood than to adulthood (but you might not want to point that out to the 15-year-old). In both cases, we need to have plenty of patience while we watch to see how it all turns out.
And in the meantime we can expect plenty of fireworks from both!