Who Protested Today?

Today thousands of students in our country protested.  

There’s backlash about the fact THAT they protested, HOW they protested, WHEN they protested, WHERE they protested.  There’s disagreement about WHAT they protested.

I’d like to focus on WHO protested.

Who protested today?

Primarily middle and high school students.  I know a bit about them.  It’s a demographic I happen to love, which certainly biases my opinion, but also informs it.  Today I’ve read comments that these students couldn’t possibly understand what they were doing.  Surely they were just going along with the crowd.

Let’s pause and acknowledge that they are protesting because none of us understands what’s happening.  School shootings continue to take the lives of our elementary, middle, high school, and college students. That’s beyond our realm of understanding, and if we don’t understand, then how can we expect our kids to?  Is that a realistic expectation?

Did some students just go along with the walk out today, because others were doing it?  Certainly.  There are worse kinds of peer pressure to which a student might succumb.  

Who protested today?

Students who are scared to go to school.  That’s a reality some generations currently alive in America can only imagine.  It’s one I can barely grasp.

I was in high school when Columbine happened.  It was awful and shocking.  And at the time, I thought it was an unbelievably tragic, yet isolated event.  Oh, how wrong I was.  While being a student then impacted me, it didn’t make me scared to go to school.  I had no concept that it could or would happen again.

My parents’ generation practiced hiding under desks during the Cold War.  They were afraid AT school, but NOT BECAUSE they were at school.  That fear was constant.  Being at school was no more dangerous than being at home, ball practice, or the grocery store.

But today’s students live in fear AT school precisely BECAUSE they’re at school.  

That’s who protested today.  Students who are afraid to go to school.

Most of us making judgments about the protest do not know, have not experienced, and can only imagine what that’s like.  

Who protested today?

Young people who are demanding better for the present and the future.  Why?  Because that’s what young people do; that’s what we need young people to do.  Do you know what’s worse—much worse—than generations who protest?  Generations who don’t. 

Apathy is a lot more dangerous than activism.  Thank goodness we have young people who are passionate enough, convicted enough, and brave enough to stand up for what they believe in.  Even if you disagree with what they’re standing up (or walking out) for, then I hope you can appreciate that they’re standing up.

Complaints abound about how lazy and entitled young people are today.  
Complaints abound about how young people protested today.

They can’t win.  
We need to choose.

Do we want young people who are passive, who accept the world around them, and expect it to treat them well just because?  Or…Do we want young people who are passionate, who see visions of a better world ahead of them, and who want to do their part to make it reality?

I don’t know what you want; that’s for you to decide.  But I know what I want.

I want young people who dream…even if I don’t understand their dreams.
I want young people who see visions…even if I can’t see them yet.
I want young people who stand up for their convictions…even if I don’t share them.
I want young people who protest peacefully and professionally…even while their adults misbehave on social media.
I want young people who call for change…even if they’re too young to vote for it.

I want young people to be safe, idealistic, passionate, and hard-working.  That’s who young people are at their best.  That’s who protested today.


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