Russian threats, “fast fashion”, abortion: words of young French-speaking people

“Hey, motherfucker!”

This morning I woke up to my phone signal. A report from an unknown person. When I opened it I read “Hey motherfucker, take off that embarrassing avatar!” A second message: “If you don’t delete this avatar, you filthy liberal, we’re going to spam your phone. We found your phone number and the name of your parents” and indeed, my personal details follow…

It’s become a weird habit. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, all Russians who show their support for Ukrainians and speak out against the war on social media have been subject to such virtual attacks. Of course, there has always been anonymous hatred on the Internet, but the war has radicalized Russian society. I know these aren’t FSB (secret services) agents writing to me, just plain teenagers. They don’t know me personally, but their level of hatred for what they consider to be ‘a foreigner’ or ‘a traitor’ is extraordinary. It’s like they’re trying to wage their personal war from their couch.

It doesn’t matter if I’m threatened, I stick to my principles and certainly won’t remove the Ukrainian flag from my avatar

The violence perpetrated by the Russian state is reflected in the lives of these young people and distorts their view of the world. It’s scary and sad. But whether I am threatened, I will stick to my principles and certainly not remove the Ukrainian flag from my avatar.

Gleb Zayarski, 16, Avenches (VD)

Is abortion a fair discussion?

Lately, abortion has been at the center of so much debate and concern… Should this topic really be a debate, let alone a political one? For let’s not forget that abortion is a very personal matter for those considering this option: no higher order should decide to impose on her a child she does not want, just as it would be unfair to forbid her to have a child.

We must not forget that regardless of belief, the decision to have an abortion is always very painful and it is not a contraceptive for anyone.

Whatever decision is made, only the person concerned will have to bear the consequences. Whether abortion is considered murder, the person who has to make the difficult decision to quit must consider his own conviction, no one else should impose it on him because no one adheres to the absolute truth; faith is a matter of personal sensitivity of each. Therefore, everyone should have the freedom to make the decision that concerns them as they see fit.

We must also remember that regardless of belief, the decision to have an abortion is always very painful and it is not a contraceptive for anyone. Let us also not forget that regardless of restrictions in this area, abortion is always practiced, only it is illegal, implying that it is performed in much more dangerous conditions, which can have serious consequences for the patient. Banning this right would therefore be an injustice and a danger to so many women.

Othilie Cerf, age 18, Fontenais (JU)

Train travel

I like to look at the sky, especially at night when the stars twinkle. I finally breathe, I forget my end, I forget hunger and I smile. It’s hot enough to melt, to melt with the cobblestones, people trampled on the brink of apocalypse. I’ll be 20 in a few days. In the middle of the sunny days.

In this station, the people are busy like an ant colony, workers in the service of their queen. I watch people parade. It’s better than Fashion Week. There is more diversity there; people run, people limp, each passage tells a story, a continuous flow of life clinging to threads, a fresco, a veil.

We take trains that leave, wherever we are taken, transported elsewhere, because everyone knows it’s always better there. Through landscapes to feel alive, because in motion.

After Ukraine, Taiwan soon at war, the right to abortion flouted, climate change increasingly visible, the list seems to grow every week

Evolving in a chaotic world: After Ukraine, soon to be at war with Taiwan, flouted the right to abortion, and climate change becomes more visible, the list seems to get longer every week. This is the reveal apokalupsis in Greek, the apocalypse, the revelation of the flaws of our time, of our modern civilization, entangled worldwide in liquid manure.

At the pace we go, people will drown in sweat before the water rises, hoping the heat will wake us up instead of putting us to sleep (large scale at Renovate Switzerland). In the meantime I continue by hitchhiking or by train and wish the owners happy holidays.

Elliot Sanchez, 19, Geneva

The harm of supply and demand

Everyone has surely heard of the fast fashion. The tragic reality of fashion. This very rapid renewal of clothing is simultaneously destroying our planet, exploitation of workers and mistreatment of animals. Those big brands that you order from or go to the store have, for the most part, behind them poor working conditions and exploitation. This is nothing new, you will say. But look at the clothes you wear, the label tells you everything.

Glad it doesn’t have a request for help – if you had heard of the controversy over a Chinese brand, very popular among teenagers… Look at the seams, the imperfections. Try to imagine the worker behind his machine, in stress because of the huge demand from the consumer that we are.

Look at the seams, the imperfections. Try to imagine the worker behind his machine, in stress because of the huge consumer demand that we are

Why is it me, a teenager, who feels an obligation to use my voice to remember these obvious things? Especially among young people I noticed how literally they are addicted to new things. Fashion becomes more important than the problems. I would hate to grow up and see that nothing has changed. Yet I am afraid.

It’s so easy to get to your laptop, scroll down and succumb to all the things the internet wants to sell you. Still, people might just as well take a look at sites and applications dedicated to second-hand goods, for example. There are more and more and even on the networks. I also hope for more pop-up, vintage or “upcycling” stores. Granted, some are expensive, but they probably cost less than a new pair of Nikes.

Clara Büchi, age 18, Saint-Aubin (FR)

The professional choice

From an early age, during a meeting, the question “what would you like to do when you grow up?” always comes up sooner or later in the discussion. But how to answer this question when we see so many uncertainties but also so many possibilities before us?

Personally, I’ve always had quite specific ideas about my future profession, but I find that some of my friends feel lost when confronted with this question. Lost because they cannot project themselves for fear of becoming aware of the long and difficult course of adult life that awaits them. Lost for fear of not succeeding in their studies and that the level is too high. Or sometimes just lost their way to find the job they dream of.

The professional choice can be scary and can lead to doubts about the option that suits us best. Sometimes we don’t know where we stand, we don’t know enough about the professions to decide whether to dive into these studies or not. We are afraid that such a long study will ultimately lead us to nothing or that we will not even find a job in the end.

The professional choice can be scary and can lead to doubts about the option that suits us best.

But luckily in Switzerland we are very lucky that we have many schools with many streams and gates, which are accessible to everyone. But also to have different means of transport to get to these branches, which is not the case everywhere in the world.

Eva Taramarcaz, 15 years, Full (US)

A bad for a good?

We are in April 2021, the results of the municipal elections have just fallen, in Neuchâtel, with a record: 58% of the elected women. Being the first to be sensitive to gender equality, I was initially very happy with this news, even if I would quickly become disillusioned.

Shortly after, I look at a micro sidewalk in the city of Neuchâtel. Passers-by are questioned about their voices and many of them all announce with a smile, with, for the sake of equality, a large majority of female names. What a disappointment, what I would have liked to hear is that these candidates have been chosen for their qualities and their efficiency. In short, nothing had changed, Neuchâtel’s politics were no more or less unequal than before. Ultimately, the theme remains the same, but from a different angle.

The problem is that if we focus our attention on equality in a group of people, it is almost impossible to achieve an equal distribution without one side or the other being favored by gender. Therefore, the constant search for parity too often goes through or leads to discrimination. For example, large Swiss publicly traded companies are forced to respect a gender quota in their management and executive positions. Such a law undoubtedly generates recruitments or denials solely related to gender.

It must be recognized that these measures stem from a necessity, namely the promotion of women in public life and to high positions, but in practice the effects are quite different. Parity does not lead to equality, on the contrary, it is deeply unequal by creating discrimination that had no basis. Competency should take precedence over gender.

Basile Schläfli, 17 years old, Neuchâtel

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