JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

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March 13th, 2004 · No Comments

mosaic.jpg Reading Jay McCarthy’s blog, makeoutcity, is like showing up at someone’s home for a potluck each night. You never know what dishes will be on the table but you know it will be good and substantial. There will be something hot and something sweet and something surprising and new to try.

Or it’s like going to a party. The same party every day. A different party every day. Some people show up more often than others. Even the regular guests can be a bit unpredictable. You never know what they’ll show up in or with. Or what music will be playing.

The other day I felt that what Jay chose to post seemed more like a mosaic to me. He takes pieces and puts them together. Sometimes they seem sharp and distinct. And sometimes when I look at them as a whole they make a picture.

As Jessica Baumgart mentioned from Je’s Blogging Demo:

He often groups posts by subject, so that posts on similar topics are next to each other. “So that it’s like they’re having a conversation, whether they know it or not.”

It’s a conversation, that’s for sure. One that makes me laugh. Sometimes I get upset. And it always makes me think.

Wednesday’s ensemble You Noticed, Huh? seemed particularly provocative. Or perhaps it was just me. What I noticed.

Here’s a picture I glimpsed in the pieces:

Jay quoted Chip Gibbons on abortion :

In the broader context, having choice over the direction of one’s life certainly reduces the sense of powerlessness. When people have choice they can afford to accept responsibility; they will not be blamed for the choices that others have made for them.

Control and responsiblity are inextricably linked.

In the same post, Jay also linked to both Chip Gibbon’s opinion and to the original BBC article describing the plan to lower California vote age

Lawmakers in California fear the same apathy among young voters. They say giving teenagers partial votes would get them interested in the election process.

The amendment would also not violate the US constitution, as long as it only applied to state and local ballots.

“We believe it’s time to open up the franchise to young Californians at the age of 14, let them register and vote and be seriously included in the process,” said Democratic State Senator John Vasconcellos.

He added that the internet, mobile phones and multi-channel television had made teenagers better informed than their predecessors.

“When we gave the vote to those who didn’t own property, then to women, then to persons of all colours, we added to the richness of our democratic dialogue and our own nation’s integrity and its model for the world,” Mr Vasconcellos said.

California would become the first state to amend its constitution to allow high school students to vote.

In the mix comes Just a Gwai Lo with a link to No Skimping on Style by Vanessa Richmond:

Teenagers spend a fortune on clothes. According to YTV’s 2003 Kid Report, Canada’s 2.5 million “tweens” (ages 9 to 14) spend $1.7 billion of their own money every year, mostly on clothes and candy. And I recently spoke to a group of 18 year-old girls from Kerrisdale who said they “easily” spend $200 to $300 per month on clothes. In fact, one of them spent $2,200 on clothes between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day alone.


[15 year old Melissa] Lesko puts a great deal of thought into her clothes. “Adults have jobs, relationships, bills, but we can spend that time thinking about style.”


Sybille Artz, a professor of child and youth development at the University of Victoria, worries about the fact that many girls say “sexy” clothes make them feel powerful and confident. She says that shows girls “have been duped.”

There’s a few other posts in there as well, including a link to an article about population growth and another about school choice .

And I find myself thinking about Jay’s juxtaposition. How to assemble these pieces together. For they do seem to fit like puzzles.

Here are some thoughts I’ve had as I played with the pieces….

Chip Gibbons wrote: When people have choice they can afford to accept responsibility; they will not be blamed for the choices that others have made for them. Control and responsiblity are inextricably linked.

What happens if we give children choices?
Are girls “duped” about fashion? Or are they choosing it?
What is necessary for understanding choice? To understand the responsibility? And how does that happen? At what age?

My daughters would be easily “duped”. It happens to young kids a lot. The classic abductor example is an adult driving around asking kids if they will climb into the car and help find a lost kitten. For a while, children will believe whatever you tell them.

I think I was easily “duped” until my own adolescent crisises, when I began to see how the adults around me, in particular my parents, were less then perfect. When I began to wonder who to believe. I spent several years putting on and taking off philosophies and beliefs, trying them out, as if they were fashions.

Are teenagers being “duped”? If so should we give them the ability to vote? When are they mentally mature enough? I thought that putting these pieces together, teen voting and teen clothing, created an interesting picture.

A thought: If we give teens the right to vote, then what happens to the fashion industry: kids won’t have as much time to focus on style?! (note to self: now I know why I am so out of fashion – I have “jobs, relationships and bills”!)

Then again, they are voting already by their spending habits. They make major impact on the economy and entertainment industry. Are teenagers ready for the responsibility and control that comes with choice? Voting on legislation is a bit different from choosing fashions. Both are means of self-expression. But the consequences of one can be much more powerful than the other. How wide a perspective on life do teens have? Would they make choices that would last longer than a new pair of pants?

But what do we require of the electorate? Some teens might be more intelligent and intentional – and have more time – than older voters. They might care more. Teens who are enjoying new freedoms might appreciate more the responsibility of voting, the way new drivers love to take long trips and go everywhere and anywhere, taking license with their new license.

Of course, some teens are not responsible drivers and get in accidents: their judgment and inexperience make them more dangerous drivers with higher insurance rates….but there are older dangerous drivers on the road too….some people in general seem to be more responsible than others…

When are children able to make a choice and live with the responsibility of it? My girls are old enough to pick out a toy at the store. But they don’t yet understand money or politics. Even when they get to pick out a toy or book, sometimes it’s hard for them to live with it. Later they complain or desire something different. I wonder when they will be old enough, mature enough, to make larger decisions with wisdom. At what age? Yet I still find myself complaining at times about the results of choices I made.

And when does choice begin? What is a choice? When is a choice? When I think about schooling, I consider how many parents don’t realize that sending kids to public school is a choice too. Sometimes I think it’s easy to assume the default button rather than see a choice for what it is.

When I think about abortion and population growth: teenagers already are making choices and living with the responsibility of their decisions for their bodies. Those decisions come with puberty – or I think, even earlier. Children make all kinds of choices about what to do with their bodies at soccer games or gymnastics. Is sexuality a different choice? It has more powerful consequences, that is true. But when do children begin making choices about their sexuality?

I belief that what is done in the body comes from the mind and emotions. So whatever choices people act out on the outside may have begun years ago inside.

How do we determine which choices teens should have? And when they should receive this responsibility and control? What is choice? And who should determine it?

Some things I’m thinking about until the next party….

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