Age is a significant factor in determining whose story gets told. It validates adult points of view and the time period when a person grows up implants ideas that stick with that generation for the durasion of their lives - creating a rift between generations.

Children are often dismissed as unreliable, innocent, and unknowing in stories. Although it is logical not to completely trust a four year old's version of events, not listening to children at all is shutting out a potentially important side of a story. Adults are considered reliable because they are presumed to be mature and they have experience in the world. However, young people also have a story to tell. Young people often have a less biased view on the world because ideas of their culture are not cemented into their brains; they have a more open minded approach to things. As in Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, it is easy for Nwoye to question the ways of the clan and eventually break from it, unlike his father, Okonkwo, who is stubbornly faithful to the traditions of the tribe which he had been living in for so many years. Nwoye's questioning of the tribe's traditions is evident in the passage when he learns of Ikemufuna's death and recounts the feeling he had when he heard abandoned twins crying in the forest:

"Nwoye had heard that twins were put in earthware pots and thrown away in the forest, but he had never yet come across them. A vague chill had descended on him and his head had seemed to swell, like a solitary walker at night who passes an evil spirit on the way. Then something had given way inside him. It descended on him again, this feeling, when his father walked in, that night after killing Ikemefuna."

Of course in Ibo culture Nwoye kept quiet until he was given the chance to separate from the tribe with the coming of the missionaries, but in modern society youth often rebel against the rules that adults enforce on them. That is their way of questioning tradition. However, the adult world generally sees rebellion among youth as reckless and stupid, thus it discredits a youth's point of view.
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Many parents ignore the concerns and arguments that their children present because they believe that their kid doesn't have enough experience in the world to understand anything of real importance. Youth are optimistic because of their lack of experience, as Robert Browning, an English poet and playwright, says, "What Youth deemed crystal, Age finds out was dew." Though Browning is seemingly saying that the views of youth are mislead, he is drawing attention to the fact that youth see things differently than adults. Different is not wrong or invalid. Adults only deem it so because they can no longer understand the point of view of a youth - not that adult views are wrong or invalid either. They are simply different and therefore both should always be taken into account.

Age also affects whose story gets told because the youth often bear the brunt of significant criticism, whether it be about their habits, clothes, music, or speech. Every generation has a tendancy to see its youth as inexperienced newcomers who will never understand the appropriate laws of society. Because youth are rarely believed in, problems can arise between generations, each believing that their own way of existance is the correct one. In Things Fall Apart, Nwoye's own father, Okonkwo, condemns him for leaving the clan to join the missionaries, asking the gods "how then could he have begotten a son like Nwoye, degenerate and effeminate," even questioning how Nwoye could possibly be his son (93). Okonkwo is from a generation of fierce warriors, but his son's generation is experiencing new things that make them different from the previous generation. Okonkwo sees a major problem with this, and this sets him up for future conflict with his son. Because their views clash so much, Nwoye is eventually driven to leave the clan.
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Okonkwo and Nwoye


In present day America, political clashes between generations effect the lives of American youth in very profound ways. Young people in America do not have the money or power to ensure that there will be fair representation of their ideas in Congress. In American politics, those with money influence policy and interest groups have money, so the fact that the American Association of Retired People is the second richest interest group in America shows that the elder generation has the potential to silence the voice of the youth simply by being louder (Edwards 337). Congress is not working on legislation that would lower the cost of college for Americans, rather, it is spending its time on Medicare and Social Security. While these are issues that will affect youth as they grown older, the government should also allow the youth the tell their story. One way they can do this is by voting, but another way to hear the youth voice is for congressmen to take up issues on behalf of the young people of America.
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Many campaigns (above) have been staged to try and encourgae youth to effectively use their voice. Still, it is evident that the elder generation is overly represented in the political arena, showing that their voice is considered more important.

On the other hand, age can make certain people more persuasive than others. When a young child states that they do not like the War on Terror because their father has been gone in Iraq for two years, it can often make a bigger impact than if a congressman makes a speech about it. The ideas of the youth are often innovative and inventive, and their stories are ones that haven't been told before. The children of today are experiencing a world quite different than the one their parents grew up in: a world where a War on Terror is on the front cover of every newspaper, and where the internet has always existed. Because their experiences are different, though they may be fewer, children and young adults can provide a distinctly new point of view that is worth noting. Many people recognize this, especially in the arts where youth like Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift are allowed to "Speak Now" (the title of Swifts' latest album). It can be frightening when silenced voices are heard, as when Joseph Conrad states in Heart of Darkness that "this... was a fresh departure for me. I was not used to getting things that way" (Conrad). Still, it is important for silenced voices to speak as loud as they can.

Many factors effect whose story gets told, but one of the most basic is age. Adults are often regarded as having more sophisticated stories to tell, whereas the youth are more raw and innovative. Age discrimination can keep some voices silent, but age can also give credit to new ideas and stories that need to be told.

Works Cited:

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Knopf, 1992. Print.

Browning, Robert. The Poetical Works of Robert Browning, Volume 2. New York: Macmillan Company, 1902. Print.

"Celebs Can Coax Youth to Vote: Study - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)."ABC.net.au. Reuters, 22 Oct. 2008. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. <http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/10/22/2397832.htm>.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Dover, 1990. Print.

Edwards, George C., Martin P. Wattenberg, and Robert L. . Lineberry. Government in America. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. Print.

"YouTube - 5 Friends Uncensored." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 1 Oct. 2008. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vtHwWReGU0>.