“They Want”: A 17 Year Old Boy on His Future

anarchy, protest, teenagers, rage against the machine

This Venice High School senior provokes with his response to the question, what do you want from your life?

Dennis Danziger writes: Tony Lopez-Figueroa is a 17-year-old senior at Venice High School in Los Angeles. When I asked students who are a few months away from graduating exactly what it is that they want as they transition into a new stage on their lives, this is what Tony wrote:

They Want…

By Tony Lopez-Figueroa


They want me to pull my pants up to my waist, but I love to show my undergarments

They want me to smoke what kills, but I’m determined to inhale God’s vine

They want me to add parts to the machine, but I’m going to ask questions and make it crash

They want me to depend on the government, but I’m off that slave ship

They want me to fear the streets, but I holla, “What’s good my brothers?”

They want me to watch my mouth and speak more fluently; I say F*CK that!

They want me to judge by stereotypes, but I invite those who invite me

They want me to kill and oppress others over religion; I say, “Only God knows where we’re headed.”

They want me to work until my head’s full of gray, but I love to smoke and hang with my homies

They want me to think my future’s in their hands, but I own my decisions

They want me to catch a man-made disease so they can only cure my symptoms; I say “I lived the good life”

They want me to contradict my dreams; I’ve never feared an opinion

They want me to serve at 18, hold up now; I can’t sip till I’m 21?

They want me to play their game, I never liked baseball

They want me to blame the brothers in the ‘hood, but haven’t ya’ll heard of dirty bacon?

They want me to fear the coward flaunting his pistol, I fear no one but God

They want me to vote for “our” nation’s leader, I never liked puppets

They want me to fear the reaper’s scythe, I know it can’t pierce my soul

They want me to think I’m at the end of the plank, but I’m not blind

And neither are you, so open your eyes my brothers and sisters.


Read more on Teenagers on The Good Life.

Image credit: Anonymous9000/Flickr


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  1. Martin Oliver says:

    What’s so special about your undergarments that you feel compelled to share them with the world? Most of the world is just glad you’re wearing some but feels no compulsion to see them.
    So, just so I can understand, you won’t smoke tobacco, but you will smoke marijuana? You realize that smoking anything does pretty much the same things to your lungs, right?
    Okay, I get not wanting to add parts to a machine for a living, but why make it crash? How does that help you? Or anyone else? Or is this supposed to be a metaphor for the world as it is today and your answer to change is anarchy?
    Actually, I believe you would find that most people want you to depend on yourself, not the government. And who in their right mind would want to be on a slave ship?
    No, don’t fear the streets, don’t fear anything. Face the evil that one can find anywhere and everywhere. Be prepared, be ready, be safe.
    Profanity has its place in communication, but it that is your only form of communication, you limit yourself. But, as you said, you own your decisions, right?
    And God said, love your neighbors and treat them as you yourself would like to be treated, which might mean that you have to make the first invitation.
    They also say, “Kill them all and let God sort them out”. Is that what you’re saying?
    And how will you support yourself so that you can smoke and hang with your “homies”? Are you going to depend on that government you said was making a slave out of you?
    Absolutely true, you own your decisions. We all own our own decisions. Just be careful where they take you, my friend.
    Can’t you live a good life without catching any disease, man-made or otherwise?
    Your dreams are fine if you can bring them into your reality. Just how do you plan on doing that?
    Too true. Can’t sip until you’re 21, but who says you have to serve at 18?
    I never liked baseball either. Moves too slow for me.
    Nope. What’s dirty bacon?
    Not all cowards flaunt pistols, neither do all brave men. Fearing God is best, but respecting authority will seldom end badly.
    Politics have certainly changed. Everyone is a puppet, even the puppet masters. We all act based on forces we don’t understand.
    Death’s scythe may not pierce your soul but it sure will end your time on this earthly plane. See comment above about fear. Be Safe.
    Every ending is nothing but a new beginning. I do hope your eyes are open and you are aware of your potential. Make the most of it.
    My eyes are wide open. I see things I don’t like. I see thing I do like. The difference is how we approach these things. I approach them with a willingness to work hard and make things better for everyone. You approach them with rebellion and anarchy, just like every generation before you. Grow up. Live better. Strive for a life for yourself beyond today and today’s desires. Work for change. Use that intelligence to make a difference. If you do that, you won’t have near as much time to sit around and complain.

  2. What Martin Oliver said, because, while some of the things this young 17 year old man said are profound and mature, some are just dumb things said by a 17 year old kid who knows nothing of the real world.

  3. A couple of good ones, but mostly spoken like a true, dumb, inexperienced 17 year old. Nothing profound here (even though he sure seems to think he’s profound), and he’s clearly someone who has no plan for his future other than wanting to ” smoke and hang with [his] homies”.

    @Martin – I’m 99% positive “dirty bacon” = dirty cops.

  4. Tom Brechlin says:

    Oh yeah…. pig = bacon … I get it. :)

  5. Tom Brechlin says:

    Out of curiosity , what in what I just said triggered moderation?

  6. Tom Brechlin says:

    Though it was a quick moderation ….

  7. Tom Brechlin says:

    Tony, this all sounds great if you were just talking to your homies, but dude, there are 200 guys and as many girls in the wings that are waiting to take the job you want, guys to take the girl you want and succeed in their goals … leaving you behind in the dust.

    It takes more resolve, more energy, more character to do what’s right and /or what’s best for your future. Like I’ve told a lot of kids your age, choose your battles wisely, there are plenty of battles worth going after … pulling your pant us isn’t one of them.

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