Individuality is a blessing. We teach our children that they shouldn’t follow the crowd, that they should think on their own, form their own opinions and not merely listen to their peers’ ideas or teachers’ opinions.
That individuality and the ability to think critically is all too often dismissed when a young person’s ideas and opinions clash with an older generation.
In the case of the Parkland, Florida High School shooting, students who have marched on Washington and Tallahassee, Florida have been dismissed by some in the older generation as being brainwashed by the liberal media. Their experience isn’t being taken into account, and neither are those of the other students who have lived through school shootings. It’s an experience most of us, at least for now, haven’t had.
Why is it that these high school students, who will graduate and be considered adults in two months or so, are still considered children? We expect them to pick a path that will affect the rest of their life, to already know exactly what they want to do in their adult life by now, yet their voices are being silenced.
Students are scared. They are terrified that nothing is being done to protect them from school shooters. It’s a never-ending nervous twitch that sits in the back of their minds while they stress over grades, exams and college applications.
Students are mad. They are seething that it appears no one cares enough to do something to keep them safe. The anger seeps into their actions, opinions, and ideas. They are politically charged and will continue to be so going into this election season.
Students are tired. They are tired of hearing about students their age being shot and killed. They are tired of listening to adults talk about the issue that they haven’t had to deal with. They are tired of waiting for someone to listen.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Every generation stands up for something while they are young, and every older generation dismisses them as “whining” and “having it better than I ever did.”
In the 1970s, it was largely college students who protested the Vietnam War. In the 1960s, it was high school and college students who protested for Civil Rights. In the 1920s, it was young women who saw the broken system and protested in order to have the right to vote. In the 1750s, it was largely young men who stood up to the tyranny of the British throne. There were a dozen people who signed the Declaration of Independence under the age of 35, one as young as 9 at the time. At the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, James Monroe was 18, Marquis Lafayette, 18, Aaron Burr, 20, and Alexander Hamilton, 21.
Imagine if their voices were dismissed as easily as we are dismissing the victims of the Parkland shooting?
Young people’s voices matter just as much as the older generation, if not more so. It’s important to hear the newest generation’s ideas when older generations have seen the same thing over and over again. Young people provide a fresh perspective that is vital in keeping discussion alive.
Without giving the youth a platform to speak on, we are fostering the resentment and hatred and frustration that leads to riots and revolutions. While sometimes revolution is necessary, it doesn’t always have to be if voices are being heard.
Education is important, and the school walkout last week wasn’t well thought out in that regard. However, if students are pushed to the point of walking out of school, to create a national school walkout and protest day, that means they are tired of not being heard.
Talk to students, go to the March for Our Lives Saturday, and just listen. It doesn’t mean agreeing with them, and it doesn’t mean arguing with them. Listen to their concerns, their fears. Listen to why they are mad. Encourage them to discuss the reason they are walking out.
Their answers may surprise you.