Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

Divisive issues call for listening, learning

More than 950 students from 45 high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 52nd annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 20. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A spokesperson was chosen from each group to write a column about the students findings.

Should there be a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, or should they all be deported? Should we continue the war in Iraq? Are we prepared for another terrorist attack?

"Of course, yes! I guess Maybe I'm not sure No!"

Over a recent weekend as I watched the news, each of these questions and answers left the lips of too many commentators and news anchors. Maybe you are like me and feel answers like these to truly pressing questions simply are not enough.

Luckily, such was not the case at the recent Sun Youth Forum as the students in the discussion group I was a part of looked not for answers, but for solutions to issues that hung over our heads. We did not leave the forum with the solutions (wouldn't that be nice if it were so easy!), but I can attest that we all left a little bit closer to understanding one another and views that were not our own.

The first impactive moment during the forum came early in the day. Our moderator, Danny Greenspun, put a simple question to the group: Should there be a draft in the U.S.?

Instantly, the room was set ablaze with outcries for and against the draft. Though nearly everyone quickly joined the debate, few had real dealings with the military. At the climax of the debate, one of my peers stood up and declared that he had come from a military family, toured the Middle East, and had already enlisted in the armed services.

He made the point that the draft was not something to be taken lightly, as it affects real people. His words were simply yet elegantly stated, and they put the issues into perspective for many who treated the important issues as abstractions.

When faced with questions about security, wars and immigration, we remembered to consider how our choices might impact real people. I think that one of our group's greatest moments came when we all faced the issue of immigration.

We acknowledged that it was a backed-up legal immigration system that drove so many to illegal immigration, and that we, as a nation, need to do something about the more than 12 million illegal immigrants here and the millions more who want to come.

Given the situation, the majority of the group decided that it was necessary to reform the immigration system to fix the legal immigration system by dedicating more manpower. In addition, we concluded that it would be fiscally irresponsible to deport all the illegal immigrants (and in some cases morally questionable) and thus we should move to have a plan to legalize their status.

By legalizing their status, we could collect some of the back-owed taxes and Social Security payments, allow future government expenses to be paid, and keep all business above the table.

The plan is far from perfect, but what is certain is that at the forum my group and I were lucky enough to learn to understand each other, and work together for a better future. People may never agree, and that is fine, as long as we can listen and learn from one another.

Glyman is a senior at Green Valley High School whose group covered the topic of America