The Kids Are Alright
Even without sound, images of a million kids marching together for a common cause are striking to behold. Add the sounds of young people demanding change, with tears and rage and determination in their voices, and you'd have to be a monster to be unmoved.
One monster, Donald Trump, tweeted about France, but no one expected better of him. Meanwhile, the world has witnessed a generation of activists that makes their elders proud, and even hopeful. iGen (those born between 1995 and 2012) are here to challenge the stereotype of vacuous brats glued to their devices. Instead, these kids are confident, smart, well-spoken and intersectional, angry with adults for passively accepting school shootings as the new normal.
God bless these kids! As a child of the 60s, I rebelled with all my might, but with no sense of responsibility and no depth of moral awareness. Rebelling was cool. For many baby boomers it was a pose or a lifestyle. We just wanted to get high and do our thing. We certainly didn't want to go fight in Vietnam. There was a decisive us-and-them culture and counterculture.
In today's march, there were no divisions and no sense of radical anarchy. Asking to be safe in school is a civil right that only the NRA would argue with. Since Columbine, more than 187,000 students at 193 schools have experienced a school shooting. School shootings have become so common that shooter-drills are conducted just like fire drills.
In the March for Our Lives official statement, the goal is clearly spelled out:
“The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues. No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.
Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear.”
These kids will be voters, as they’ve warned our elected leaders, and they mean business. For the first time in decades, there is reason to believe that a change in gun legislation is possible. Military veterans have come together in an ad for the march, insisting that the weapons they used on the battlefield have no place in civilian life. How great that these experts are lending their voices in support! People who have given in to cynicism are beginning to admit a glimmer of hope.
After Sandy Hook, we hoped that with Obama's leadership, there would be sensible gun reform. We didn't realize how effectively the NRA could change the conversation. Gun sales spiked with the theory that the massacre was hoax. Obama was secretly trying to disarm citizens so he could...I don't know, effect a Muslim takeover? I remember the shock of realizing that butchered schoolchildren weren't enough to change hearts and minds under the spell of the gun lobby.
But now we're here. Parents and survivors of other mass shootings are speaking out, grateful that the kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are fighting back. Each of their stories is heartbreaking. Each life was changed forever by a moment of gunfire. But it's uplifting to know that this movement has given them hope.
Baby Boomers enjoy complaining about Millennials, and why not, with their Ubers and avocado toast and their disdain for our antique furniture. They have been a disappointment, even though they will occasionally help us with our IT problems, and on top of it they won't give us grandchildren!
But this new generation, they are leaders. They are engaged and compassionate. They are here at last. Let's salute them, and stand by them. May they change the world, starting now.