Human Revolution

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My First Published Article

This piece first appeared in the August 18, 1998 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. It's been sitting on a backup CD for some time, so I thought it about time to put it back up on the 'net. It's still one of my favorite pieces, although I strongly dislike the title the Inquirer gave it (it made me sound like a whining teenager, IMO).

A messy world -- but not one of our making

By Paul Nowak Jr.
Hi. It's me, down here. I don't think you know me and my friends.

Oh, you say you do, but I don't think that's true. You call us Generation X or Next or whatever else comes to your mind when you see us or hear about us. And you definitely hear a lot about us. In fact, it seems we're a problem for you. Like you can't figure us out or something.

So, I thought maybe you'd listen. But we're beginning to think you can't hear us anymore.

I remember when you expelled my friends and me for praying around the flagpole at school. Not allowed to practice a religious faith, we put our faith in other things. We escaped our problems through drugs, and you complained about us to one another. We got one another pregnant, and you gave us condoms and told us to get abortions. We were a little late with some abortions, like my friends in Delaware, and you labeled us baby killers and shamed us in the public eye. Now, we shoot one another -- perhaps our most desperate cry for help -- and you say to one another, "What shall we do about them?"

Ever think of asking us?

No, not our opinions. You've asked for them plenty of times. How about solutions? Maybe, just maybe, we know what's wrong.

Seventy-six percent of us don't have parents to come home to after school -- both parents work. Our teachers and guidance counselors can't help all of us -- we're just too many. So to whom do we turn? One another?

I guess we can't use your standards for choosing our role models. All you seem to show are the ones who got high, aborted, and pulled the trigger.

What I'm saying -- what we're crying out -- is that we need something or someone to believe in.

Don't crush us for doing the right things, and we won't do the wrong ones.

Show us a family, and we won't start and end ours before we are out of high school.

Listen and talk to us, and we won't have to kill one another for your attention.


Note that this was written a few years before the Columbine incident. Also, the line about "my friends in Delaware" refers to Amy Grossberg and her boyfriend, Brian Peterson, who had killed their newborn child moments after birth and were crucified in the press for it.


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