When I was 17, I worked with the local university’s “Students for Jesse Jackson” chapter. When I was 17, I caucused for Jesse Jackson for president, went to the county convention, and got my parents to do the same. When I was 17, a group of us organized a walk-out over an upcoming school referendum we needed to fund our school and that the public was resisting.
Anyone doubting the kids from Parkland and other kids taking up the cause of gun violence in America either has forgotten being young or spent their own youth in self-absorbed dissolution.
Anyone who doubts these kids is ignoring the many examples of teen excellence that surround us, from student governments to Olympians and everything in between.
Is it believable that a 17-year-old can have the fortitude and dedication to win a gold medal but somehow inconceivable that a 17-year-old would rise up over the bodies of their murdered friends and demand change from the adults who are supposed to be running the world?
When I was 17, Columbine was twelve years into the future. I worried about the safety of school funding, which was already under attack. I did not worry about the safety of my body beyond hurled insults and soda cans. When I was 17, I did not rehearse lock-downs like my son did when he was five.
It’s over 30 years later, and here we are with a right wing that wants to turn our schools into fortresses rather than take any steps to curb the prevalence of guns and gun violence in America. That would rather turn the United States into a police state than confront what is a unique and deadly American problem.
And that other issue? The school funding? It’s 30 years later and republican policies have hamstrung our public schools and left our kids with fewer resources to work with for their education let alone their safety.
And the right wing now has the nerve to act surprised when survivors of a massacre stand up to say #NeverAgain? It has the grotesque audacity to claim these kids are paid shills or pawns of the left when they speak out against decades of “adult” garbage policies that helped put them in those rooms where their friends and teachers died?
Go get ’em, kids. Go get their apathy and cynicism, and burn it down. Go get their powerful powerlessness, and expose them for the cowards they are. And go get their guns.
We adults have failed you.