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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Youth: Stepping Forward to Change the Beat of America

by Stephen Anderson
District Representative for Student of the Year

“The Youth: Stepping Forward to Change the Beat of America” begs three questions: what is “the beat of America;” secondly, why do we need to change it; and finally, why have the youth be the ones to step forward and be the changers?
When one considers the beat of America it is logical to start with the origins of this country and its founding fathers. Going back to the Declaration of Independence we see references to the Creator suggesting a belief in God. Further it is documented in numerous writings of the early political leaders of our country the need for commitment to ethical and moral values of equality, freedom and honesty coupled with individual accountability and responsibility. Having studied American history it's easy for me to see how the beat of America has gradually evolved from what the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the authors of the Constitution had in mind to what we see today portrayed by the media and online news services. Something has happened over the last 200 years.
The next question of “why do we need to change the beat" is open for debate and discussion. Some would say, “Leave well enough alone. Our country is just fine.” I feel strongly that the intentions of our founding fathers of respect and responsibility have largely been lost and trampled by our so-called advanced society. Our appetites, of all types, and desire for free time has made a recipe for bad behavior. I really think that freedom and accountability are rigidly linked and cannot be separated. There seems to be a disconnect between moral degradation and the effect that it has on our families. Images and topics of discussion that are now commonplace on television, in movies and even news channels would have been, just a decade or two ago, totally taboo to even bring up outside a private conversation. I feel it is getting worse and worse and something needs to be done to change the course.
That brings up the next question of "why choose the youth" when there are individuals much older and experienced with degrees and connections. My feeling is that we, the youth, are flexible. We are not set in our ways and there is an innocence in the youth as well as an energy which makes us the most qualified to step forward and change the beat of America.
The youth of America have an opportunity to influence "the beat" by holding high moral standards, setting good examples, making good choices and being involved in positive uplifting activities. We also need to be involved politically--starting with taking advantage of leadership opportunities in our schools. I have been grateful for the privilege I have had to hold various leadership positions in my school. I have been selected as the team captain for our varsity soccer team which has given me the opportunity to make sure that the team standards and morale are high and we treat each other, the other teams we play, our coaches and the referees respectfully. I love to be able to influence the younger players for good. Also, being Student Body President has given me countless opportunities to work with community leaders to learn about positive leadership and to build bridges between the community and the youth. One chance that I had to positively change and uplift was to serve on the Veterans Day Committee with various community leaders and other citizens. I was the only student on the committee and was given a lot of responsibility. A parade was planned involving the different schools, businesses, clubs, and of course, the veterans. The parade was followed by a program that featured students from Pine View High School reading letters of gratitude that they had written to our veterans to thank them for their sacrifice and service to our country, our community and to us as individuals. It was an amazing experience.
As youth we need to be sensitive to opportunities to use our own creativity and energy in making the world a better place. One way I found to do this came from an unlikely inspiration. As I entered high school and began participating in organized sports I was surprised at the foul language used by some players, fans and coaches. From this observation I started an organization called (CM)² which stands for “Clean Mouth, Clean Mind.” Initially we had just a few members that had committed to "live by the code" of clean mouth, clean mind but then it grew. First I had a couple of friends in my school and then it popped up across town. Then members joined in an adjacent city and from there it spread to as far away as Europe and Kuwait. I don't know how far it will reach but my hope is that it will reach clear around the world and possibly make the world a better place to live. There is now an active website,, and members found in over 20 states in five foreign countries. What binds us together is our commitment to "live by the code" of clean mouth, clean mind and in this way contribute to changing "the beat of America" one person at a time. My opinion is that the ideals and principles of cmsquared more closely match what the principles of America were originally built upon.
I feel honored to be counted in this group of student leaders for consideration of Youth of the Year award. Many in this group comprise the future leaders of our nation. It will take more than one person to change the beat of America. It will not be just one but rather a group of us who will need to step forward to positively change the current course of our nation. I have energy, vision and a desire to do my part to help restore what the founding fathers of this country had in mind when they imagined “One Nation Under God.”

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