It is not a time of war NSA violating rights

A few weeks ago my Government class was given a citizenship test to test our knowledge of American government.

I picked up my pen and smiled.

Being an American citizen my whole life I had no doubt I would ace it.

But as I started reading the questions, my confidence quickly disappeared. I, like many teenagers my age, know very little about our country’s government.

For many people this comes as no shock. Teenagers are supposed to enjoy the last few years of their childhood before adulthood knocks on their door.

But that’s just it – adulthood is just around the corner.

We can’t magically wake up one day and expect to understand how our government works.

And if we continue to be ignorant to what’s going on in politics and current affairs we will not be able to see when our rights are being violated.

After Edward Snowden leaked that the National Security Agency was tapping into phone calls and monitoring Internet usage, many Americans became outraged. Outraged at the fact that the government is invading our privacy – violating our rights.

But many did not know or remember that we already signed away some of these rights in the Patriot Act after 9/11 in hopes of stopping terrorism.

We continue to accept our rights being taken away and we willingly hand them to the government.

Our country is built on rights.

Unlike many other countries in the world, citizens here are born with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

But once we give up the rights our founding fathers fought so hard to give us, we are unlikely to gain them back – at least not without a fight.

We also cannot expect change without action.

Many teenagers feel that they cannot do anything about what’s going on in government.

We can’t vote. No one listens. And we are just kids so we have no rights.

But we do!

Over the summer, the Lodi Unified School District created a new social media policy that had high hoped to prevent cyber bullying.

The policy loosely stated students who were involved in extracurricular activities and sports would be monitored and could be punished for “bullying behavior” on social media networks.

If students refused to agree to the policy they would no longer be allowed to participate in any extracurricular activities.

Students felt that their First Amendment rights were being violated when they were forced to agree to this so they began to protest.

After protesting and bringing the community’s attention to the new policy, the Lodi Unified school board withheld the policy and looked for it to be rewritten.

The policy now states that students can only be punished for their “bullying behavior” if their comment is brought to the school’s attention by someone – the school cannot motor the students beforehand.

These students felt like their rights were being violated and they didn’t sit around and complain about it.

They got together and they did something about it.

Our government and country will never get any better unless we take a stand now.

A stand to be more informed.

A stand to not sit back.

A stand to make a difference.