Straight Talk Advice

Wishes for the World 2014

Dec 16, 2014

Hopes and dreams of youth plant seeds for a better future

Dear Readers: From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks. The dreams of the young are the seeds of the future. It’s my honor to present these youthful voices, each one striving to make the world a better place. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All! —Lauren

Ochatre 25, Kampala, Uganda Ask me a question

My wish is an open relationship amongst the world’s inhabitants and collective responsibility in making the world a better place. It’s disheartening that countries aren’t coming together to solve global problems, that tribalism still determines who gets employed, that we are still divided by religion, skin color, economic status, and country of origin. May you and I realize we are the same — and that only through working together can we achieve our individual desires. [Readers: Ochatre is a founder of Amani Initiative, a non-profit working to end teen pregnancy and early marriage in Uganda. Learn more by clicking http://amaniinitiative.org/.]

Gregg 23, Houston, Texas Ask me a question

I wish we would allow the planet to support us instead of polluting it. I wish for terrorists to bring the battle to the battlefield instead of harming innocent civilians. I wish for my generation’s success (and thus everyone’s) via reduced college costs and a livable minimum wage.

Elle 19, Mifflintown, Penn. Ask me a question

I wish young people weren’t so glued to technology. Conversational abilities and etiquette have plummeted. I grew up with minimal TV, no laptop, and no smartphone (at 16, we got flip phones). We spent tons of time outside. Life was fun! (When our parents offered to get us a Wii, we actually said no thanks.) And we have stories! Put down your phones, everyone, and do something worth re-telling.

I also wish everyone would do their research on the terms “tolerance” and “intolerance”. (“You don’t support controversial topic A?” “You’re intolerant!”) Tolerance has come to mean that all viewpoints are equally worthy, thus, CALLING someone intolerant makes YOU intolerant! It's a Catch-22. We should respect and value others, but this doesn’t mean we must approve of or engage in their beliefs.

Breele 20, Los Angeles Ask me a question

I wish it wasn't so hard to find a true friend. In L.A., life is very competitive, skin-deep, and more about gloating over others' flaws than improving each other. Many girls’ esteem and entitlement is based on what a guy buys her, not his character — or her own. It's like a sickness in the air everyone is infected with.

Colin 21, Sacramento, Calif. Ask me a question

First and foremost, I wish humans would stop destroying the ecosystems our survival depends on. I also wish everyone would block fast-tracking of the “Trans Pacific Partnership”. You probably haven’t heard of the TPP because it’s the secret brainchild of global corporate giants (in cooperation with government and media heads they’ve obviously bought). Thanks to WikiLeaks we know about it. They won’t even let Congress read the draft! Best website: http://350.org/the-largest-corporate-power-grab-youve-never-heard-of.  Best video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnC1mqyAXmw

Dubbed a free-trade agreement, the TPP will make elite corporations powerful beyond comprehension. This corporate power grab will escalate environmental destruction, decimate jobs (ruining millions of lives in first- and third-world countries alike), hinder food labeling, kill the free and open Internet, and give elite corporations sovereignty as if they were nations! I’ve lost faith in all our two-party candidates (Hillary Clinton helped craft the TPP!). People need to rebuild their understanding of reality with books like “Confessions of an Economic Hitman“.

Moriah 17, Rutland, Vt. Ask me a question

My wish is that everyone be able to take a breath and get a wholesome perspective.

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  1. By Mindy, age 16, from Carmichael, California on 12/16/2014

    My wish is that there be an end to prejudice and discrimination, and that everyone could just be allowed to be who they are as God created them.  I have a sister who is gay and a close friend who is African American.  They are are both beautiful people and it breaks my heart to see the prejudice and discrimination they face.  My sister has always been the best big sister anyone could ever want, and my friend is the best friend anyone could ever want.  However, they both face much prejudice and discrimination because of who they are through no fault of their own.  My sister and I are very close and I actually have always liked sharing a room with her and having her there for me, unlike many girls I know who hate having to share a room with their sisters and always fight and argue.  As has been written about many times in Straight Talk, undressing in front of her and her seeing me nude does not raise sexual issues in any way, shape or form.  I’m much more comfortable with her seeing me nude than anyone else I know.  However, none of my friends will come for sleepovers in our room just because of her sexual orientation.  The one exception is my African American friend who has no problem, probably because she knows what it is like to be treated differently because of who she is and is one of the very few African Americans at our school. 

    I am proud to say that my parents always taught my sister and me to accept everyone for who they are and not judge them by the color of their skin or the sexual orientation that they happen to be born with.  I will raise my children the same way and believe that we would have a much better world if everyone did so.

    Mindy

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  2. By Suzi, age 16, from Petaluma, CA on 12/17/2014

    I agree that an end to prejudice and discrimination would make this a much better world.  Our mom is gay and entered into a samesex marriage last summer.  Before this, we never told anyone that she is gay, so no one knew.  It is not a problem for my sister and me, and our stepmom is very good to us.  However, now that they are married, the “cat is out of the bag” and everyone knows she’s gay.  As far as I know, my sister and I are the only ones at our school whose mom is in a samesex marriage and the teasing we get because of this is unmerciful!  Friends who spent the night many times before they knew our mom was gay will no longer do so even though there was never a problem.  They would sleep in our room, not our moms’  room, so I have a very hard time understanding what they would have to worry about, but they do!  Since it’s an all female household, we are all casual and sometimes walk around in our underwear, and my sister and I don’t worry about putting on a bathrobe when we go to take a shower.  It’s no different than an all female household where everyone is straight (and my sister and I are totally straight) and were just as comfortable with our moms seeing us nude as any girls whose mom is straight.

    I don’t understand why we have to be treated this way when we have done nothing wrong, and neither have our moms, and I agree that an end to prejudice and discrimination would make this a better world.

    Suzi

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  3. By Carmen, age 17, from Carmel, CA on 12/18/2014

    I would like to see an end to bullying.  I recently read about a boy who committed suicide because he was bullied and labeled gay just because he liked being a cheerleader.  This scares me to death because my little brother who is 14 is bullied just because he is very small for his age, isn’t good at sports,  and has a high pitched voice.  Everyone assumes that he’s gay because of this and he’s constantly harassed and bullied.  He has no friends because anyone who started to be friends with him was also labeled gay and bullied.  He isn’t gay, but even if he was, he would not deserve to be bullied.  This has also caused him to have stomach and digestive problems and he has trouble eating and keeping food down.  We share a room and since we’re opposite sexes I try to avoid looking at him when he’s undressed, but I can’t totally avoid seeing him naked, and I can see that his body is wasting away.  Reading about the boy who committed suicide therefore really scares me that something similar could happen to my brother whom I love very much.  I can’t even comprehend what the bullies get out of causing the misery that they cause to others, but there needs to be an end to it and schools need to be much more proactive on this issue!

    Carmen

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    1. By LAUREN, from StraightTalkAdvice.org on 12/18/2014

      Carmen—You need to tell your parents about both the bullying and the anorexia. They need to get him out of that school, and quickly. Anorexia IS a type of suicidal behavior and his life and future health are in danger. This is no time to hesitate, so speak to them in confidence, possibly arranging for them to enter the room when hearing an agreed upon signal (that says he’s undressed) so they can “discover” his condition “accidentally” as many siblings do. Your parents also need to tell the school officials about the bullying and push for the school bringing in the Safe Schools Ambassador program (see our column at http://straighttalkadvice.org/teen-advice/entry/a_bullying_solution_that_really_works) to prevent this behavior at the source.

      That said, nothing will be quick enough to help your brother at this particular high school. He needs to get into a friendly environment, ASAP, whether that’s transferring to another high school, or joining a home school program for a couple of years, then switching to a college-connection type of program. So glad you wrote in! Set up a meeting with your parents right away. The Christmas break will be a great time to switch schools. Let us know how it goes. —Love, Lauren

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    2. By Tammy, age 16, from Sylvania, Ohio on 12/20/2014

      I agree that there needs to be an end to bullying in order for us to have a better world.  My little sister is bullied just because she is somewhat “different” than most people.  She’s below average in intelligence (but not considered retarded) and is in the special education class.  She also has poor coordination and walks in an awkward way and also has vision problems and wears special very thick glasses that also make her look different.  Because of all of this she is constantly teased and bullied.  Her life is difficult enough, but this makes things much, much worse.  Our parents have complained to the school and some of the kids who have bullied her the worst have been disciplined.  However, despite the fact that everyone says the schools should be controlling this, it’s really impossible to stop all of the cruel teasing.  Even most of my own friends, while they do not tease or bully her, will not come for sleepovers in the room I share with her because they say that they’re “not comfortable” around her.  She is a very sweet, loving person but is very depressed and unhappy due to her treatment and it breaks my heart.  As with Carmen’s brother, she also doesn’t eat much and might be considered to have anorexia, and when she’s nude I can see that she’s nothing but skin and bones.  Our mom has seen her nude so she already knows this, but doesn’t know what to do about it.  She isn’t shy about sharing the bathroom with me and I can also see that she has serious “bathroom issues”  when she’s on the toilet.

      While she would be having a difficult life in any event, it wouldn’t be nearly as bad without the bullying.

      Tammy

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  4. By M, age 19, from Southern California on 12/19/2014

    I agree with Mindy, Suzi, and Carmen that there needs to be an end to prejudice, discrimination, and bullying if we are going to have a better world.

    I am home from college for Winter vacation, and my younger sister just confided in me that she is gay (which I had long suspected), but is afraid to come out because she fears the prejudice, discrimination, and bullying that have been written about.  I totally accept her as she is and it makes no difference to me.  I am still totally comfortable sharing a room with her and undressing in front of her as I always have been.  She actually said she’d leave the room when I undress now if I’m uncomfortable and it made me laugh as we’re still sisters, so what is there to be uncomfortable about?

    However, our parents are strict Catholics who think that being gay is a terrible sin and my sister does not think they would be able to accept it if she came out, and I think she’s right.  She’s also afraid of harassment and bullying at school if she were to come out as she has seen what happens to other kids at school, both guys and girls, who are openly gay.  She told me that her best friend is also secretly gay and that they have had sexual relations, but everyone thinks that they are just straight best friends and they want to keep it that way.

    I have to agree that she’s best off not coming out, at least until she’s out of high school.  I’ve found that college students are more mature and accepting, and while there still is prejudice and discrimination, it is not nearly as bad as in high school and there is little actually bullying in college.  However, I think it is sad that she can’t just be who she is and be accepted.

    M

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    1. By V., age 16, from California on 12/19/2014

      Your sister is lucky to have you.  Please continue to support her, as she really needs you at a time like this.  I wish I were so lucky, as I’m also secretly gay and don’t have anyone I can confide in.  I don’t have a sister, but I have a stepsister with whom I have to share a room with on visitations who is totally antigay and homophobic and is part of a group at school who harasses and bullies gays because she says they deserve it as they violate “God’s Law” according to her, which she justifies by quoting the Bible.  She hates having to share her room and treats me like dirt as it is, so I can’t even imagine what would happen is she knew I was gay and she been undressing in front of me all this time.  I have no sexual interest in seeing her nude body and actually wish I didn’t have to see so much of it, as she’s overly casual about nudity in the bedroom partly to rub it in that she has a much more attractive body than I do. 

      I agree that everyone should be allowed to just be who they are and there should be an end to prejudice, discrimination, and bullying.

      V.

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    2. By C.M., age 41, from Santa Rosa, CA on 12/21/2014

      “Can’t we all just get along?” as Rodney King said. 

      I agree that there needs to be an end to prejudice and discrimination if we are to have a better world.  However, it has been going on since the time of recorded history (and likely even before that), so I think it is being overly idealistic to think that it could actually happen, sad to say. 

      I have 2 teenage daughters and one of them is gay.  I have no problem accepting this and neither does her sister with whom she remains close and with whom she has absolutely no problem sharing a room and undressing in her presence and sharing the bathroom, as it should be with any sisters.  However, she feels that she must remain in the closet for fear of the bullying and discrimination that she has seen happen to others.  While I have no problem accepting her, I do not believe that my parents, my ex-husbands parents, or my ex-husband and his new family would accept this, so we must keep it a secret even from them.  I realize that some day she will have to “come out,”  and I fear the ramifications on both sides of the family.  On visitations, the girls share a room with a younger stepsister, and I know that my ex-husband’s new wife would not be accepting of this if she knew my daughter were gay, even though they have been sharing a room and undressing together for 2 years without incident.

      Our situation is far from unique, and prejudice, discrimination, and bullying is faced by millions.  I just wish that there could be end to it and we could “all just get along,” but I am not optimistic that it will ever happen.

      C.M.

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