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Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Exterminator of Youth

         At teen court, I constantly get cases about kids who are addicted to marijuana, and have been using it for years prior to the time they were caught. They're completely addicted to it, yet ironically many of them are well versed on the consequences that the drug can have on their body. They realize that it can destroy their entire future and know that it will destroy their aspirations. Yet they continue to illegally waste their money buying marijuana under the counter, and consuming it as if it were a candy bar. This raises the question in my mind of why teens are willing to drop everything in their lives to have something they know isn't right.  I would spend a year designing a social experiment to try to find the answer to this question that floats in my mind without respite.

The reason why I want to get to the bottom of this is because I’ve seen so many kids walk through Teen Court who are gifted and talented, but succumbed to the ruse that is marijuana that lead to their downfall. Imagine a world where drugs didn’t exist. This isn’t the case, but what if it was? We’d be in a world where people with addictive and curious personalities put their genius into their passion rather than into figuring out how they can get their next supply of weed.  This is why I would want to spend a year trying to figure out what the source is for millions of kids to be willing to destroy their lives over a plant.  If we can learn this maybe it would be the first step to day where we can completely end one of the evils that the world presents.

There were 19.8 million people consuming illicit marijuana in a single month in 2013 in the United States according to, so why am I focusing on teens rather than everyone. The reason is that if we want to end marijuana permanently we have to find why kids are abusing it, because if a 15 year old is smoking marijuana once a day, in 10 years there will be yet another adult who is teaching their child bad habits through example. Also kids are a lot more impressionable, so stopping a kid from a future with marijuana will have a much bigger toll on his perception than it will have on a 40 year old addict. Kids are the future. If we find the answer to this question, then the future will get a lot brighter for them.

If given the opportunity, I would spend a year of my life to discover why teens destroy their lives to get an allegedly good feeling for a few minutes. With the answer to this question, we could end the reign of the greatest mass murderer, depressant, and destroyer of millions of families, otherwise known as marijuana. One year of persistent searching is minute in comparison to possibly discovering the first step to the answer to a great problem that tries and haunts all of us every day.

The Heart vs The Brain (Inspired by Exeter Mission Statement:Non Sibi)

What do Malala, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela have in common? They all follow a common way of life that has inspired me. Non sibi, not for oneself. This phrase brought these people to be the greatest figures in the history of our world. When many people hear of these people they think of them as the figures of intellect and genius. However, none of them accomplished their monumental feats purely with their mind. They were able to do it because of a drive to help others and advance the human race as a whole.  The drive to do things for others instead of for themselves pushes people to new heights. This is the Philips Exeter Academy mission statement, and the drive for millions of doers everyday throughout history.

The American government was the trailblazer of the democratic system in the modern world with Thomas Jefferson as the vanguard of this revolution. He took his pen and wrote word by word a liberation all people that made up something that is still looked at as one of the most important documents in history. He showed the feelings, emotions, struggles, distress, pain and anger for the people who couldn’t do so themselves in a work he called the Declaration of Independence. He wrote every word with his heart as a declaration for the millions of people being oppressed by the king. Thomas Jefferson wrote for the religious freedoms, civil rights and well-being of all people. He didn't think of just himself and the rest of the rich, educated, Christian male population with his words, but also the poor, uneducated Jewish woman who was looking for a better life in the new world. His goal to achieve the freedom of all people caused his words to be immortalized as the core ideals of our country. Thomas Jefferson had a brilliant and well-educated mind, but his heart, that wished for the future of something beyond himself, is what made him the father of the USA.

Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi is the epitome of non sibi. He started off from humble beginnings in India, but he went on to defeat the country, Great Britain, that had an iron grip on them for two centuries; he did this without laying a single punch on anyone.  However, that does not mean he didn't take a few hits himself. He went through hunger strikes, marches, and was put into jail. Gandhi took all of this to stand up for what he believed. He believed in the freedom of India. However, he also genuinely believed that all people should be kind and love one another. He believed in giving what someone can. He was known to be extremely greedy but not for himself; he was greedy for others instead. He loved the people of his country and sacrificed everything he had for people he didn't know.  Gandhi was not trying to free himself from Britain's clutches. He wasn't trying to free India from Britain's clutches.  He was trying to free the people of India from Britain's clutches. Gandhi had once said that we should thank people for giving them the opportunity to give. He had made it his life’s mission to help others in every way he can, and, in turn, he felt that he was helping himself.  He had a sharp mind, but he had an infinite amount of love and passion.

It is conspicuous who made a difference in the world, but it is hard to see why there are so few people who were able to do so. There are millions of smart people in the world, but only some of them are remembered as being a hero of their time. In the fall of 2014, there were 24 million people who attended a university.  It is recorded that 6.4% of the population is gifted intellectually based on their IQ score.  It has been proven time and again that there are myriad intellectual and creative people everywhere, yet the one thing that marks them from the Gandhi's, Malala's, and Tesla's of the world are the goals they seek. When people aim for money, power and their own well-being nothing is accomplished in the grand scheme things. When everyone lives for the happiness of each other, this happiness is found in everybody.

Every day we as a society glorify intellect, education and genius. We encourage kids to learn as much as they can and to challenge their minds. Every day we convince ourselves that being smart will bring us the success we want. Non sibi takes a different stance and teaches us something different. It teaches us that a kind heart is what drives sharp intellect to reach greatness. It teaches us that our brain isn’t the panacea to all of the problems in life. It teaches us that intelligence is overrated while the role of heart is underrated or even completely overlooked. The greatest leaders, the most passionate activists, the most influential vanguards in history all realized their gifts and worked and worked with their kind hearts for the benefit of others and for humanity as a whole. Thomas Jefferson fought passionately for the freedom of Americans. Malala put her life on the line for the girls of her country, and persevered for them in the face of adversity. Nelson Mandela worked tirelessly for the end of apartheid and the safety of millions of South Africans. The leaders of tomorrow can't be judged by their intelligence, but instead they can be judged by what they'll do with the gifts they've been given. Non sibi is not simply another lofty ideal; instead it is a statement that shows us something remarkable. The mind is simply an axe; it can be sharpened infinitely, but it is useless without a compassionate helping hand to guide the way.

The Horrifying High School Gameshow

            The further I get into high school, the more I realize how similar it is to the game shows I used to watch on...