The Barrel of a Gun

Matt Westerhold
Mar 23, 2010

"My pen is the barrel of the gun..." These are the words of Pete Wentz, my favorite lyricist. It's like the modern version of the quote "The pen is mightier than the sword," spoken by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. But the simple eight words in "The Pros and Cons of Breathing by Fall Out Boy" say so much.

They touch me and give me power. Like many before me, I want to change the world. I want to make a difference. But how can I do this? I'm only 15 years old. How can I, a person who can't even drive yet, change this world in which we live? I can use the barrel of my gun.

I was given an opportunity many young writers that share my dream would love to have. Last month, I got to meet a man named Matt Westerhold. Along with being a wonderful and exquisite writer himself, Matt is the editor of the Sandusky Register. He told me he loved my writing and I should keep it up. I remember smiling at the words of encouragement and feeling very proud to have such a noted journalist complimenting my writing. Within the next week I found out Mr. Westerhold apparently wanted me to help inspire my fellow peers and community. He gave me the opportunity to voice my thoughts and ideas on the online version of the newspaper.

It was dream come true for any writer. But everything seemed too good to be true. I held my breath for the next couple weeks while my teacher, Dr. Marlene Boas (who made it possible for me to meet Mr. Westerhold in the first place) called and tried to reach Matt many times. Eventually he called back. That's when the explosion went off in the pit of my stomach. It was my turn. I was getting a chance to change the world and I couldn't have been more excited!

There were doubts forming in my mind. I was ready to take on the world and help make a difference. But was it worth what it might cost me? Could I take the ridicule and persecution of my fellow peers who would look at me with disdain in their eyes? Look at me, their fellow teen, as the enemy? Was I ready for that? Since I had met Mr. Westerhold, I had been reading his blog on sanduskyregister.com, and I saw how some members of the community shamelessly attacked him, his life, and his writing. Could I do the same thing? Put myself out there to be slaughtered by words? Sacrifice my reputation in school and open the doors to undying snickering while my back is turned?

Close to running back home with my tail between my legs, I remembered something my best friend told me once. He told me that you could never get everyone to like you, no matter what you did; you could never please everyone. I believe that he's right. It doesn't matter if people spit at you as you walk down the street. What matters is, at the end of the day, I know my family and friends love me, I know that I'm making this world a better place, if only slowly, and I know who I am inside. I know I can do this. I want to make a difference, and I can. I can take whatever anyone throws at me, because I know I have the barrel of my gun.

So here I am. I'm ready to change the world. Slowly if necessary. I'm ready to help the adult readers understand what it's like to be 15 in the new millennium. I'm ready to help make the connection between adults and the youth of today stronger. I believe that we all have to work together to change our community for the better, but we can't do that if the adults and youth can't communicate. I've said it many times before, and I have a strong feeling that I will be saying it a lot in the future, "To change tomorrow, we have to have the vision today." I hope that this blog will not only be informative for the readers, but entertaining as well. I'm swinging in the dark on this, and I'm hoping I don't hit a brick wall. Only time will tell.

Comments

Anonymous

Fall out boy writes crap music

Anonymous

Well first I must say I am impressed that you're 15 and know the lyrics to "The Pros & Cons of Breathing" instead of the new Fall Out Boy stuff, this is music actually worth listening to. =]

Also, I give you props because I'm 20 and also a writer. I am actually just starting my first novel (of many to come, I hope). I also plan to open up a new & used bookstore in our area in a couple of years. You seem like one of the young people I would actually see in the store. =]

Also, don't worry about what people will say on here. Like your friend told you, you can't please everyone. I get the meanest comments on here just by leaving a comment. They attack my personality, my age, and even my character which they have no idea about me other than a few typed paragraphs they read online. The worst part is that they don't have to sign their name. I am one of the few on here who almost always use their name as their screen name. The only time I don't is in a reply to someone else.

Well with that said, I look forward to reading your blogs. Can't wait. Good luck!

Anonymous

Michelle, nice first column. It's the obligatory, "this is how I got this webspace story..." Now you actually have to write something. :( If you want to close the gap between generations here, answer me this: What's up with that music? It's more a confusing ode to a dysfunctional relationship than an example of the power of the written/spoken word. (By the way: everybody is watching how you handle the haters, so don't dissapoint us. Do it with finesse to impress.)

Anonymous

Michelle,
I am looking forward to your writings.
It is good to see young people such as yourself express themselves. The young people of today will become the leaders of tomorrow.

I like your quote: "To change tomorrow, we have to have the vision today." It certainly appears to be an original quote. That quote will now be attributed to you. I have a feeling that you will one day be a very famous person. :)

Anonymous

Although I don't currently work as a journalist, that's the focus of my education as well as the content of my first full time jobs. Based on my own education and experience, I have just two things to say to Michelle:

1. Your column is quite well written. I'm more than a little thankful to see that at least one high school student somewhere still speaks and writes English both properly and with flair!

2. I don't see that Matt Westerhold is typically attacked on these blogs because people merely disagree with his opinion. The attacks appear to be overwhelmingly in response to some "news" story that's been published. I put the word "news" in quotes because, as you I hope you know, Michelle, "news" and "opinions" are two very different things. In my experience, The Sandusky Register has much confused the two in recent years by reporting scandals instead of serious stories, and by exacerbating serious stories into scandals by one-sided speculation all under the byline of "news." Many of Mr. Westerhold's own editorial columns are in defense of one such story or another, which is in and of itself more than a little telling.

When I went to school (and it wasn't so very long ago!), the difference between reporting and editorial commentary was made clear to us, and the ethics of confusing the two was emphasized. Here's hoping that a student as well spoken as you obviously are will help to return us to the days of integrity and responsibility in news by sharing your opinions with the understanding that some may disagree and that most will do so with some grace.

I trust you won't forget that facts, on the other hand, should be neither selectively reported to slant stories, nor should they be utterly ignored. If you don't fall into that trap, I doubt that the kind of attacks on your friend, Mr. Westerhold, won't be visited on you.

Best of luck in your new ventures, and again, you've made an impressive beginning!

Anonymous

Michelle,

You appear to be a very insightful writer and I enjoyed your article (Blog). I am a former subscriber to the Sandusky Register and feel that you could easily replace your friend Matt Westerhold. I would even entertain re subscribing to the register, if they were intelligent enough to replace Matt with a 15 year old. Good Luck Michelle and I hope the very best for your future.

Anonymous

Good Job Chelle! I am very proud of you! Good things come in many disguises.

Anonymous

Well I havent blogged in a while, but I have to say that the post from this 15 year old girl seems to be more well thought out and much more well spoken than Matt's ever been. My only problem is that she is claiming Matt to be her "Mentor" that is scary!!!! This man is not a journalist, but a person who was given the power to express his "Opinion" in a newspaper that is supposed to be unbias. The only advice I can give to Michelle, is that she take everything Matt has ever done and thow it in the garbage. He makes his living bashing our city leaders and standing behind a woman whom he doesnt really know. I am sure he loves to read the kind words expressed by this young girl who somehow sees him as a "legitiment" editor. Maybe in dealing with him and continuing to follow his work, she will learn what NOT to do to gain the admiration of future writers.....

Anonymous

Register alienates every reader they have and then tries to save the operation by letting a 15 year old write for them. Nice try Matt but......you still stink and so does the current format of the Register.

Anonymous

Best advice I can give you Michelle is to stay away from the political arena. It can get nasty and you are way too young and inexperienced to take it on. If you get into this area of news, it will turn you off from becoming a reporter or you will just plain get cold feet and have second thoughts about a career in reporting.

Anonymous

Michelle run! You don't want to learn from someone that also has trouble with the truth. He is already trying to turn Jennifer to the dark side. Use the force and run!

Anonymous

Michelle,

I would like to give you some insight on your question, even though you already know the answer.

It has been my experience through running the The Hero Zone and the Gamers Lounge that everyone has influence on changing the world in little ways everday.

It has been my experience of living for fourt-two years that the more people you connect to, the more influence you have in making a difference and change the world.

History is littered with people who have changed the world. As a writter, you will also have a major effect. So push forward with your barrel filled with ink, and enjoy the effects that you make.

Anonymous

Geez Matt, no Nuesse article? I'm shocked!

Anonymous

Matt has stopped because he sees that his ship is about to sink. He has let this bright young girl write an article to try and steer us away from the fact that he has alienated everyone in this city, problem is the Nuesse thing is not his only "mistake". How do all you concealed carry permit holders like having your names plastered in this joke of a newspaper?? That was Westerhold....Matt is going to soon wear out his welcome here and I think someone should start a petition to have him fired and maybe have the "ministers" in this city to investigate HIM. Matt is such a joke and I hope and pray that this young girl does not look to him for advice on.......well, anything...

Anonymous

bye bye kimmie

Anonymous

Was there anything shameless about breaking the law and invading the privacy of CHL holders? IS there anything credible about reading a misinformed love note from someone who's sole claim to fame is...wait for it...a blog? What's more likely to make you famous, writing well (a skill at which scant few succeed, much less excel) or cranking out your unsolicited opinion in a blog (something that everyone and his mother already does)?

Anonymous

Changing the world is a rather overwhelming task! People should forget about changing the world, and focus on changing themselves(at least you have some say in that!). Guess what will happen? Also, change is often imperceivable. But that doesn't mean it isn't not happening.

Anonymous

Forget about Fall Out Boy. They have a record contract, and their goal is to sell records and make money. Read. Experience. Think. Question everything.
The 1960's could have changed the world. But it just became the start of big business preying on the youth of our country, through style, and music, and ultimately television. DON'T WATCH MTV. They are run by swine who want to control what you think, and how you consume.

Anonymous

I'm just thinking....out of all the intelligent and experienced people in Sandusky, why was a 15 year old given a blog? What experience does she have - other than buttering up to Matt, apparently. At 15? Come on. We all wanted to change the world at 15. And if you want to change the world, please don't use fall out boy to do it.

Anonymous

Like I said... we (the young people of this world) are the future. You're not. Obviously you're just jealous of her.

Keep on going Michelle, you're going to be amazing!

Anonymous

...is that baby she got cookin' inside her!

Anonymous

You can NEVER have all of the answers, especially when you don't even have all of the questions.

Anonymous

good luck prove all the idiots of this world wrong you can do anything you want lol