How are voices meant to be used?

voice vɔɪs/ noun

1. the sound produced in a person’s larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song.

“I’m 17 there is nothing I can do right now.”, “I’m a student there is nothing I can do until I turn 18 and have a right to vote.”, “Protesting is for my parents, I want to enjoy being a kid.” All the previous statements are things I have previously said. Me and my friends often had conversations about how frustrated we were about various things in our country. I remember once when the debate about staying in the European Union was really heated in Greece, my class had a huge discussion about it. We decided to go to the demonstration taking place next Friday.We were talking for hours about what is fair and just and how we as students could change Greece for the better. The Friday of the protest we decided to go out for junk food rather than protesting. We decided to ditch our revolutionary ideas and go back to being “normal” teens. It was somewhat our parents influence telling us to stay in and be safe, somewhat our reluctance to actually publicly state our opinion. Being politically active as a teen usually has a bad connotation. You are a rebel. You are not normal, you are trying to play the grown up. You are even recorded on the Greek media, your teachers see you and judge you next day in class.

In Greece protesting on the street is a common expression of the people’s emotions. We go on strikes, schools are occupied by students more often than not for various important or unimportant reasons. The public transport shuts down, the streets fill, people of all ages gather. Sometimes it’s peaceful, sometimes not. In our daily lives, protesting is a norm. It is so normal that sometimes you disregard it the same way you disregard the countless beggars on the street. Getting lost in the microcosm of your daily life and ignoring what is happening around you is staggeringly easy. Especially with the economic crisis and the unrest that followed pretending that didn’t affect you was a way to cope.

When you are a student between childhood and adulthood it is so simple to be deliberately ignorant. It is harder to be involved in any way. But there is so much power in us. We can be change makers. The fact that we are not adults does not limit us in any way from demanding what we think it’s right. We don’t have the right to vote but we can show our opinion. Peaceful demonstration is one of the ways you can use your voice. It is not the only one. Be involved, volunteer for events, walk in the streets with the protesters to see what they are saying, ask questions, speak with your friends and family, argue with your parents about politics. Your voice doesn’t automatically switch on on your 18th birthday. You always had it. Use it.

When I came to UWC one of my floormates was a petite girl from a country I knew next to nothing about. She was so sweet and quiet. One day in one of my classes she spoke about a student movement she was involved in back home. How her parents worried about her every night she went to the city to fight for what she believes, how dangerous it was at a point. The passion in her voice, the tears in her eyes, the words coming out of her mouth, they all seemed foreign coming out of a girl no taller than 1,55 meters. We all have inside us the capability to be challengers. We can do it through music, through writing, through painting. We can be on the street or we can affect our own little world, our school and family. To me we have a responsibility as the youth of today. We can’t use our age as an excuse or blame our parents for their voting. Instead of arguing with the older generation we can devote that energy to sharing our perspectives and reaching compromises.

We are young and we are passionate and our silence can truly be the biggest help we can offer an unfair regime. Every unjust law passed, every wrong decision being made, every racist, sexist, ignorant call our leaders make is threatened by us and our voice.