As society prepares to meet the next century, we are faced with a concern that threatens to divide our country into two extremes. The root of this issue lies within the high schools of America, where tomorrow's future is faced with the question of political apathy.

Whether it be simple disinterest or a sense of helplessness to make a difference, teenagers are bound by the misconception that politics are not within their reach. The United States of America, however, was founded on the concept of political freedom for all. Many American lives were sacrificed during the Revolutionary War for the preservation of such liberties.Without a generation that is involved and understands and respects the political process, the dishonesty and poor representation of views that students currently decry will continue.

Although many students feel the intent and definition of politics have been skewed, many would agree that politics were meant to embrace the governmental processes founded for the purpose of serving the people and the country. Unfortunately, students are beginning to shy away from such political procedures for a number of reasons.

Several factors have fueled this apathy, one of the most prominent being ignorance concerning governmental structures and intricacies. Without a proper foundation as to the systems and processes behind politics, students may grasp only a superficial understanding of the implications behind the issues. Without a connection or any roots to the cause, disinterest and frustration are sure to follow.

Another reason for the political apathy that has consumed our schools is the perception that politicians are crooks and generally deceitful. The media have constantly showered us with news of scandals that involve various political figures, henceforth rendering the idea that politics have been consumed by fraudulence and moral indecency.

In reality, however, many political figures such as Harry Truman - the man who led the United States during the start of the Cold War - illustrate pictures of integrity and honor.

One of the most universal reasons teen-agers today shun the political world is they feel powerless to change anything. Students presume that politicians have no reason to listen to or respect their ideas because they cannot vote or are simply not regarded with the respect and credit due them. This is a wake-up call to both lawmakers and students alike; a call for increased participation and respect from both groups.

Politicians ought to make more of an effort to unearth the concerns of teenagers through visits to local high schools or through communication with established committees of individuals willing to share their views.

Students, on the other hand, should take every opportunity they have to express their concerns. Whether this be through letter-writing campaigns or publication in local newspapers, we must begin to exercise our freedom of speech in order to develop a more prominent voice within the community.

The simple truth remains: Politics cannot and should not be avoided or shunned. The "corrupt" individuals that students denounce are the people making the choices that will shape our futures. The fates of welfare, health care, the budget and the environment are sure to have profound impacts on our lifestyles and the choices we make for tomorrow. Without knowledge and respect for the system, these decisions will be clouded and real gains for bettering our society will not be made.

It is up to us to reclaim the system for which our forefathers fought so valiantly. Students ought to voice their views and concerns by taking every opportunity to vote as well as to become better acquainted with both local and national issues.

Schools ought to take a more active role in regards to the political stage by providing forums and discussion groups wherein students may explore this fascinating realm on a level at which they are comfortable. In addition, more advanced classes concerning governmental structures and national affairs should be offered in order to stimulate self-exploration as well as guided learning into this crucial discipline.

It is a community responsibility to ensure the political interests and needs of every generation. Politics, when wielded correctly, can be a powerful weapon with which to fight the injustices we battle daily.