The greatest enemy facing this county is not al-Qaeda. It is not terrorism, fascism, fundamentalism or environmental disaster. No, this threat to our country and our way of life is far greater than any of these, because it allows, through inaction, the perpetration of terrible hurt and injustice upon our people and our nation. The enemy I speak of is the apathy of the American youth, by which I mean you.

Yes, you are a part of the problem, whether you admit it or not. If you don’t follow world affairs and you don’t lobby your representatives when your liberties are stripped away, then you have helped take away the rights of all Americans. If you aren’t protesting in the streets when your country invades and occupies foreign countries, violating international law in the process, you have given your approval to the actions taken in your name. You are the occupier — you support military rule over foreign nations and the torture of people who will never be charged with a crime. If you don’t fight against the crimes committed by your government, then by your inaction you share the blame for them.

After all, if you really disapprove of these actions, why aren’t you fighting back? I have a feeling the real reason you don’t stand up for your ideals is because you just don’t care enough. The problems may bother you, but you have homework, sports, friends, lovers or perhaps a job, and there is much fun to be had. You rationalize your guilt away, and keep it out of your mind. However, you have abandoned your duty as an American citizen in the process, and the whole world suffers as a result.

The reason I am so hard on you is because you are among the most gifted, most advantaged, luckiest people on the face of the planet. Your life is the envy of billions. However, these privileges are the result of a radical system of government, which cannot be maintained without constant monitoring and input from you. I don’t mean voting — casting a ballot every few years does not a responsible citizen make. You need to learn your rights, to scrutinize your government and to fight — really fight — against those who abuse their power. Because you do not, you legitimize the very people who most want to hurt you. Fight back. What I mean by fighting is forcing people to listen to you, and convincing others to do the same. Hold your representatives accountable, and voice your opinion: Congress’ phone number is 202.224.3121, and you can find almost all information about legislation and representatives at Legislators are legally obligated to listen to you, so if you aren’t contacting them, then you are giving your consent to every action they take. Regularly contact your representatives, and take the time to convince some of your friends to do the same. The groups arrayed against you are numerous, well funded and far more influential than you are. I cannot stress enough the need to work together with like-minded people to make your voice be heard.

Educate yourself. If you don’t already know, mainstream news companies in the United States cover only a tiny fraction of real newsworthy events, so tune into alternative sources such as Democracy Now!, IndyMedia or foreign newspapers. You can find all of these easily online.

Protest. Get out in the streets and cause a nuisance. Organize a protest or get involved with local groups that do so, and force people out of their apathetic shells. Stay peaceful, stand up for what you believe in and never back down to those who resort to patriotism and national pride. If those against you cannot argue without relying on these crutches, then they have already lost. Yes, protests and protesters are looked down on by many, but only because it reminds them of their own guilty consciences. Cast aside your apathy and ignorance, and embrace the heritage of your radical and liberal nation. Only then will you be worthy of your American heritage.