In my 61 years on earth, I've learned one thing well in the last couple of years. Don't argue politics on Facebook. My son posted something last night that I agree with and I wanted to respond. But I didn't. Because of not arguing politics on Facebook.
This, however, is my blog.
Great social change often starts with the young. Civil Rights. Segregation. The Viet Nam War. Rock and Roll, for heaven's sake. They have a passion for the things they believe in. They don't understand why you can't just change things that don't work. They aren't cynical yet and don't fall for the "we've always done it that way" line of BS.
I taught teenagers for 28 years. Some of the most passionate, educated, insightful people I've ever met walked through my classroom doors. And they often educated me. I talked with them about important things in their lives and listened to their answers (how many keyboard warriors have talked to a teenager since they were one?). We didn't shy away from controversial subjects and we certainly didn't scream at each other and call each other names. My only requirement was that they back up opinions with real facts, not a meme on Facebook or a sound bite taken out of context.
This is a different world than the one you grew up in. When my 30-something sons were growing up, we had fire drills and tornado drills. They didn't have to be afraid for their lives when they came to school (And if you think kids aren't afraid to come to school, you should talk to a few). By the time I retired, we had active shooter drills. I had to answer questions like, What if I'm in the bathroom? Would you really not let me in the room? What would you do, Mrs. Day?
Teenagers grieve differently than most adults. The march yesterday started in someone's living room with a group of young people trying to figure out how to handle their grief. How to change a world the NRA has convinced that more guns are the answer to school shootings. Their solution, if you really listened to what they had to say, was to get out and VOTE. Yes, they want to change gun laws. But they are figuring out faster than some adults, that to affect change, you have to change the laws, and to change the laws, you have to change the lawmakers.
And they backed up their get out the vote message with voter registration booths scattered throughout the mall. My favorite question asked by reporters yesterday was "Are you registered to vote?" Most were registered before they came! Maybe we should start asking some adults that question before we let them talk.
To those who think that teenagers don't have or shouldn't express political thoughts. This is their world and we will expect them to lead it in a few years (There are a couple I would vote for tomorrow). These young people who marched yesterday not only have opinions, they are backing them up with FACTS. They aren't relying on news organizations or any adults to tell them what to think. They are looking things up and backing them up. Quite frankly, I trust their opinion more than someone who relies on Breitbart News for their information.
I'll end with my own words from March 14
"We want students to advocate for themselves. We TEACH students to advocate for themselves. We want them to come to us if they are being bullied, if someone is abusing them. We want them to tell us if they see something.
This is what they are doing.
If we don't listen now, will they ever come to us again?"