2010 Naples Tea Party Speech

Travesty by Travis Williamson

The following speech was given at the Naples Tea Party on Saturday, October 2nd in Naples, Florida.

"Good afternoon, my fellow Americans! My name is Travis Williamson, I am a teenager here in Bonita Springs Florida, I've been living here for about seven years. I am a junior in high school, and I am so happy to be here to be able to be here today and speak to you about an issue that is very close to my hear that I deal with at least 5 days a week, Education.

Now, how many parents are here today because they are worried about the current direction of this country and the effect it will have on your children?
I'm glad you guys are here, I'm glad everyone is here because people who don't think what's happening right now is a serious situation, then they or their kids are going to be in big trouble. Tell me, who is tired of seeing international question surveys where American constantly falls at the bottom of the list. Honestly, it is a serious issue right now and the problem is derived from two main sources: The kids and their parents.

Let me begin with the kids in this country. Now I don't possess the audacity to claim to be a particularly smart or special person, but keep in mind that these are the people I interact with everyday, so believe me when I tell you that one of the biggest problems with kids falling behind globally is their attitudes towards school.
Every morning when American kids wake up for school, they absolutely dread getting out of bed and going to school. Half way around the world, they're are African children who will wake up and walk 5, 10, 15 miles to the nearest school, across dangerous terrain, just for the opportunity to gain an education. What is the difference between those two groups of kids? American kids, and actually Americans in general, have become so spoiled that we have forgotten the kind of blessed lives we lead that we have started to take things for granted. We become so caught up in minor problems in our lives that we lose site of the big picture and allow for mediocrity to take over and pollute our economy, government, and our lives.
People need to count their blessings more, because I promise you that any American alive today couldn't count them all on their hands and toes, not by any means. Ladies and gentlemen, we are very lucky to be alive right now, to be born into the greatest nation in all of human history in probably the best century of all time. All these gifts have made people take these things for granted, and they forget how lucky they are. We have cars, houses, running water, a government that, until recently, was really stable and functional. We have numbers that we can dial on CELL PHONES when we are in trouble and specially trained men and women will fly to your house to protect you and your family! People forget that, especially kids. We live really comfortably as Americans, we really do and it makes people passive about things. I know you guys aren't passive, you're out here making a difference and standing up for what you believe in!

The reason America is slipping behind other countries, well one reason, is because our kids just don't care anymore, we've forgotten how precious education is! Teenagers don't realize that the blessing of education is a counter to terrorism. Ignorance is submission to fear, and education and knowledge is the defeat of ignorance. People fail to realize that education has immense power, had schools be built in Afghanistan in the 80's, I would argue that today we would be fighting a much easier war, if even a war at all.

Now the second problem as I see it is parenting. Now please know that I'm not telling anyone how to raise their kids, I'm not the federal government. I am really lucky to have been blessed with the best parents I could ask for who have brought me up in a free-thinking environment where I have had access to the things I needed to do well and make informed decisions. Not everyone is that lucky, however. Recently I wrote a piece in the Naples Daily News about teenage responsibility and new generational attitudes towards education caused by parenting. I referred to a younger generation of kids that I dubbed "bubbled-wrapped." These are children who are being brought up sheltered in loli-pop land where everything is perfect and there is no evil in the world. From what I have observed these kids are being brought up by parents who want nothing but the best for their children, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The problem is these parents have allowed our system to be covered up by so much red-tape that our system is now broken because the state schools can't make the improvements they need to. In some states unions have become so strong that it is impossible to fire a bad teacher, so there are bad teacher in our class rooms, and good teachers with new ideas who can't find work. Does that make any sense? In some schools not only can you not give a student an F if they failed, you certainly cannot grade them in red pen, because "it's too harsh for little Timmy!" At some point we actually convinced our kids that this "no winners, no losers everyone wins" attitude actually exists in the real world. You guys all have jobs, tell me do your bosses are about your self-esteem? It is backwards, and broken, and doesn't make much sense.

But at the same time, it's amazing. It is so great that we live in a place where an education is an obtainable goal to every taxpaying citizen of the United States. It all comes down to forgetting about what we have and forgetting about what it means to keep it pristine.

I would like to leave you with a few words that you may have heard before, they are the words of Charles Sykes, from his book, "Dumbing Down Our Kids." These are his 11 rules of life:

1. Life is not fair - get used to it.
2. The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world
will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel
good about yourself.
3. You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out
of high school. You won't be a vice president with a
car and phone until you earn both.
4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a
boss. He doesn't have tenure.
5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it, “opportunity.”
6. If you mess up, it’s not your parents' fault, so don't
whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
7. Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as
they are now. They got that way from paying your bills,
cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about
how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest
from the parasites of your parent's generation, try
delousing the closet in your own room
8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
9. Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
10. Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
11. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Thank you all so much for your time. God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America."

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