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Change has to start with us

Every kid has certain expectations about life after high school. We graduate and have this mindset that we're going to go see the world, make this nation a better place, party hard until we need to settle down.

I've been told that the years after high school until your mid-20s are the years when you can have fun; after that, we need to step up and take responsibility.

That's the mindset of most teenagers and young adults these days. But I don't know if I agree with that. To me, being mature doesn't mean you miss out on fun. Taking responsibility for our actions in the here and now, as opposed to skating through life — being an example to the younger generation about how to have fun without mayhem — shouldn't that be our goal?

I know that isn't necessarily the outlook others of my generation have, but that's not the point. Our grandparents partied hard, and why not? It was a time of free love, peace, happiness and Woodstock. Our parents grew up with stock markets, cocaine, crack and Bill Clinton.

We get meth, molly, MDMA, ecstasy and Wiz Khalifa. But we're also teaching the younger generations, the 11- to 14-year-olds — and even younger — that it's OK to do drugs. We have allowed, and even encouraged, the propensity for people to do drugs, to riot and have the craziest nights of their lives. We strive to rival Project X in our raves, our bonfire parties, our kickbacks. Where has that taken us?

We've gone from the most prosperous nation to a landmass of obese, fast-food addicts. We've let our children grow up without parents; let our schools and towns get overrun by gangs and turf wars. Our nation, the land of the free and home of the brave, is now the land of the poor and home of the apathetic.

Change has to start with us, the generation of tomorrow. We need to be the ones who decide that shirking responsibility until we have no choice isn't the road we want to take. Because it isn't just about us — it's about the kids coming up on our heels, the children a lot of us already have.

How can we, as humans, as a people who say that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights, not allow the next generation a community that makes those values possible? I know that it's hard, really difficult in fact, to let go of our partying ways, but when we have this responsibility, this sacred obligation to give those who come behind us a shot at joy, who then are we to refuse? We can't in good conscience say that all we have to live for is our own selfish desires.

Let's make a change people, starting with ourselves. Who else is there?

Mitchell Glockling lives in Medford.