Finding the middle ground

By  Dylan Robertson, Youth Speak News
  • June 20, 2008
“You don’t even have your learner’s permit?” Here we go again. Lately I never fail to find one person daily who is shocked by the fact that I don’t have my driver’s licence.
As a young person in suburban Ontario who has been eligible to get my licence for a year and a half, it’s generally expected that I would have done so by now. My friends often wonder how I can live “with all that restriction,” and bug me about not yet achieving this rite of passage.

I have two reasons for not doing so — the first being that I’m too busy. That may sound like a poor excuse, but it’s the truth. I was going to take the test as soon as I turned 16. Then something came up, and then something else, then I was abroad, then I was busy, etc. To put it briefly, taking the test was nowhere near the top of my priorities.

The other reason is perhaps a result of my other friends who applaud me for not “falling victim to the unhealthy automobile lifestyle.” I’m not the most eco-friendly person, but the environment is important to me. I aspire never to buy a car. Gas prices, insurance, food shortages, global warming, parking fees: there are so many reasons not to own a car. At this point, a hybrid’s out of the question for me too. When I start university in the fall, I look forward to riding my bike and getting fit instead of driving.

Besides, many communities have transportation systems. I envy Toronto for its system. No matter how much Torontonians might complain, public transit in the city is much more conveniently accessible than it is in suburbia.

I don’t mind the inconvenience: it’s for a good cause and I can always occupy the time. But this doesn’t always work out. Quite often my parents are stuck with the obligation of driving me to regular commitments. They can’t wait to stop acting as chauffeurs for their teenage son. Not having a licence, in my situation, is a bit too idealistic.

With this in mind, I have found a compromise: I will get my licence, but only use a car when absolutely necessary. Perhaps when I’m older we will have better options. I’ve heard the water-powered car is gaining popularity.

In our secular world, a young Catholic is faced with many ethical dilemmas. To name a few more examples — youth wonder if it’s OK to shop for clothes made by child labourers, if it’s right to find work at companies with human rights issues or if it’s workable to only consume fair trade products on a tight budget.

The best way to make these decisions is through prayer and finding a working solution. A young person could try to limit the clothes and food they buy, and use them as much as possible, for example. Finding a middle ground means sticking to your beliefs, while doing what is possible and good in the long run. Young people don’t have complete freedom in all their lifestyle choices, which are limited by family, income and location. It’s important to keep in mind that independence comes with age, but for the time being there are ways to work things out.

(Robertson, 17, is a student at All Saints Catholic Secondary School in Whitby, Ont.)

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