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I wrote this little gem a few years back, during my last year of high school at, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a prominent D.C. magnet school which I hated. It was supposed to run as an opinion piece in a dissident school paper I was planning to start with some of my no-account friends. It never got off the ground because we were all too lazy, but I now offer this up as part of the noding things you've written before project.



Slacking is the last act of civil disobedience possible. We have been raised in the loving talons of Totalitarian Education, and worse yet, we are the quislings and collaborators. We wouldn't be here at this glorious School for Science and Technology unless we were the line-leaders, the ones who never ran in the halls or spoke out of turn. So here we are, and all ready to claim our proper reward. We get to be the leaders of the Next Generation, and all we have to give up is our souls.

We are the leaders. We take advanced courses, we get good grades because we know that we need them to succeed. The only things in our permanent records are letters of recommendation and certificates of merit. We'll go on to the right colleges, meet the right people, get the right jobs, sail up the career ladder. We'll carry on the same policies that seemed so very, very sensible to our parents. And then we will die, fat and sated, and secure in the knowledge that we, at least, did the right thing.

Look around yourselves, brothers and sisters of mine. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is the future, is your future and mine. We are clean and happy and multicultural, multicultural without knowing what culture is, and we are always respectful of our elders, at least to their faces. We can see our common destiny in Document Based Questions, read it in the bowels of Timed Writings, scry it out in the Peer Evaluations and Group Presentations which teach us to cooperate so very well.

We've learned how to be creative. We're creative, on topic, to the tune of two pages, double spaced. Maybe we turn in the same essay, written thirty-five or 100 or 1600 times, but that's ok, that's what we've been trained to do. We fill in bubble sheet after bubble sheet, always the same, and we always use Number Two pencils.

Does nobody have the courage to stand and resist? To look the teachers and smug administrators in the eye and opt out of utopia? They have the carrot and they have the stick. They have our futures, we are the ones that need the grades and recommendations. We need, like a baby needs milk. We do not exist, are not virtuous, do not have value, outside of what they choose to grant us. Don't fool yourselves, Harvard doesn't give a damn about whether or not you're a good person. Princeton doesn't care about your hopes and dreams, not if you don't have any extracurricular activities.

Ask yourselves what it's all worth. Maybe the prizes of this game aren't worth playing. Are you ready to become your parents? Do you see yourself as a future Vice President of Marketing, or perhaps Research and Development? You're sliding into your future already. Ready to give politely applauded speeches before National Conventions, ones with lots of slides? Good, because that's what that Humanities presentation is preparing you for. Ready for three cars, a big house, a morning commute? Get used to hearing that alarm clock go off too early, boys and girls, because you'll be hearing it for a long, long time.

Or maybe that's not what you want. Maybe the future, maybe a human life, maybe your life, isn't something to be led into by others, even if they do have Your Best Interests at heart. Stand up for your right to lie down. Hit the snooze button. Pretend that you're deathly ill, just this once. After all who are you hurting? Learn to see your homework for the frivolous bullshit that it is, to treat it with all the respect that it deserves. What are you worried about? Your grades might slip? The exercise wheel will start to slow down, once us hamsters get sick of running in place. The only thing you stand to lose is fifty years of office politics and slow death.

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