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Lily Downs, 10

Photo by Alex Paredes

Photo by Alex Paredes

Alex Paredes

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I would describe myself as someone who is very caring and conscious of other humans around me.  I’m very aware of emotions and I try to make everyone feel included and supported. I was raised in a very sheltered environment, and I went to a very sheltered school where we were not allowed to converse about media. I received an opportunity going to [a public school]. I was not accustomed to life at public school. People were calling each other “faggot,” being disrespectful to teachers, talking about politics, and fighting. Being aware of current issues greatly affects me, [but] instead of being discouraged and depressed about the world, I use my emotion to try to inspire change. I suppose my childlike sensitivity towards social issues is what inspires me to continue working for social change.

Activism is standing up for your values, your rights, and your equality. Activism sparks inspiration, it motivates others to take actions and to be brave. Activism changes the world, because without activism, women would not have the right to vote, we may still have slavery, and there would be no such thing as equality or women’s rights. Violence and discrimination in our society is entirely caused by the people. It is the people who influence others, who hurt others, who forget to be kind, who are unaware of their actions. The people of our society have become numb to pain and suffering. They have lost themselves in this era of fate, opposing views of violence and pain. For many people, it is almost impossible to reconnect with their kindness. Some are so far gone, that they may not even want to try.

I would say that I spend a good portion of my day on teen activism –– for example, reflecting on my behavior, my words and my decisions, and current events and news that I read. Because I think about issues in the world a lot, it occupies a lot of my time, and caring about society is a huge part of my life. As an activist, I stand up for a variety of issues, mostly [against] double-standards, bullying, homophobia, violence, and sexist expectations. In addition, I speak about events my friends tell me about, because if I was unaware of an issue, chances are that people don’t know about it either. So I try to educate them. Being an activist puts me in a vulnerable position by standing up to political leaders and for controversial issues. I open myself up to potential conflict. People will have different opinions, and that’s a fact of life. How we react, however, speaks to our character. When I receive a negative or opposing reaction, I used to feel angry. Just like that, I realized that if I am not willing to hear others opinions, I am exactly that person. That person who rejects change, who causes conflict, and who sets a bad example.

Being an activist can be difficult, but it is why I am [here] on this Earth. I try to make others feel safe, accepted, and encouraged to be themselves. I will try to act and live in a way that sets a positive example for others and try to inspire others by being a role model. As a teen activist, my life has changed because I am more of a leader now, and I can fill that leadership position. Teen activism is a driving force in my life now, and I want to be involved, and I know that I want to dedicate my life to this.

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Lily Downs, 10