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On eve of fiscal cliff, Congress acts like squabbling children

I constantly hear adults talking about the importance of instilling "values" in my generation. For the last 14 years, my classroom walls have been plastered with obnoxiously bright posters touting the necessity of civility and respect for others. At school, compromise among students is stressed as a sign of maturity.

Yet when I turn on the news, I hear of politicians pointing fingers at each other over the "fiscal cliff" rather than following the Golden Rule. Why have our legislators not come any closer to creating sustainable solutions to these urgent economic issues?

When did there become a distinction between compromise in school and compromise in Congress? Why do the very adults who seek to promote tolerance refuse to tolerate each other? And most importantly, why do our leaders stress the importance of "values" without imposing them on themselves?

I am not an expert in public policy or economic theory. I am just an average 17-year-old kid. But it doesn't take a policy wonk to understand that the outcome of these crucial national decisions will help determine the future of my generation and many generations to come. Or that if we can't come to a consensus on how to deal with our economy, then our future may not be so bright.

The "grown-ups" tell me that I am in good hands. I want to trust that our leaders will come to a compromise on fiscal policy. I want to know that our elected representatives can put country before party affiliation. And I want to believe that empathy for the views of others, understanding and a willingness to compromise is something more than just a brightly colored poster in a third-grade classroom.

Maybe if the leaders of this nation remembered the values they were taught as kids, they could be held accountable for more than just their adherence to a political platform. And if all else fails, our government could benefit from the words of my father, who always had the same response to my sister and me when we refused to get along: "Girls, stop fighting, sit down and make up."

Emma Zyriek, Bel Air

The writer is a senior at C. Milton Wright High School.

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