While I realize that it's each generation's turn to point their collective wagging finger at the generations behind them in despair and, yes, even ridicule, I do take offense when a broad brush is applied to them all.
Nothing has made me more proud than the surviving students — yes, I will repeat that, the surviving students — of the recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, as well as local students in my own community, who have organized across the country to march and demand change.
And even as a childless woman, I am sorely ashamed for leaving them this mess to sort out as we, the adults, have failed them so.
After all, when my generation was in school, the idea of mass shootings wasn't even on our radar. There might have been a scuffle or two between boys, and I do remember in middle school a couple of bomb threats — more than likely made by someone who hadn't studied for that Friday's test. We had fire drills and tornado drills and kids older than me had "duck and cover" drills during the Cuban Missile Crisis because we all know that a desk is wondrously effective in guarding against nuclear fallout. Mostly we combed the orange hair of our troll dolls, watched The Partridge Family and kept pulling up the hip-huggers over our non-existent hips.
But the thought of mass shooting drills …
So, as I read the comments at the bottom of articles as well as in social media regarding our youth planning their marches across America and to Washington, D.C., yes, I will admit my inner mullet began to sprout as my eyes fell upon denigrating comments.
"These are the same kids who think it's cool biting into Tide pods."
"Since when did we begin taking advice from a bunch of stupid teenagers?"
"They must be getting paid to do this, they're too young and dumb to know how to organize."
Sorry, but I had to respond to that one. I really try to remain courteous and respectful and moderate my comments, but after witnessing the superb organization, articulation and passion from the kids in my own community, my fingers flew over the keyboard:
"They're the same age that was considered mature enough to date a then-32-year-old district attorney and later, judge, in Alabama."
Mass shootings are a touchy subject. I get that. But one thing we all have to agree on is that they are becoming more frequent with larger numbers of casualties. Of the 30 deadliest shootings in the United States dating back to 1949, 19 have occurred in the last 10 years. Besides Parkland, three of the five deadliest took place in the last year. Are you like me in that when you read that statistic, you were trying to remember what the other two in the last 12 months were because they now all seem to run together?
Answer: the 58 concert goers murdered in Las Vegas and the 26 congregants of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland, Texas.
And in the meantime the argument goes on and on: it's a mental health issue, it's a gun issue, it's (yes, I read this) "because parents don't open a can of whoop-ass on their kids no more" issue.
Ignoring our inaction, teenagers across America have decided to stand up and let us know in no uncertain terms that while we continue to fight and flail and attack each other on social media, they are actually going to do something. These kids are beyond savvy. Their organizational skills are astounding. They know how to work social media like no ones business. They are in fact putting together a mammoth political campaign. And regardless of what side of the argument you stand, politicians, ignore them at your peril. Because come this November, millions of them will have turned 18 and are eager to vote.
This might be a good time to remember that one used to have to be 21 years old in this country in order to vote. It was during the Nixon era that the 26th amendment was enacted lowering the voting age to 18.
By a wave of teenaged activism.