I normally stay out of politics. Today is an exception…Sort of.
I have opinions, but I rarely voice them here or on social media. I don’t begrudge others their right to be vocal, but public debate just isn’t my thing. I know I will not change someone’s long-held beliefs with a post or comment, just as they will never change mine. I choose to take my opinions to the ballot box instead of the soapbox.
So today, my news feed was filled with stories about high school walkouts. National Walkout Student Day was organized in response to the Parkland, Florida shootings.
A glutton for punishment, I read some of the comments. Along with the encouraging “Way to go!” and “So proud!” were messages like “What’s the point?” “Walking out of school isn’t going to do anything.” “These kids were eating tide pods last week.” “They don’t know what they’re talking about and are being manipulated by adults.” “They need to shut up and go back to class.”
First of all, to lump all teenagers in with Tide Pod eating idiots is unfair. I know many who are smart, thoughtful, well-spoken, and sincere.
Second, to deny them the right to voice their concerns is un-American. This is a teachable moment in these young people’s lives. It will no doubt shape some of their adulthood choices.
I don’t care if you agree or disagree with the protesters. I don’t care what side of the gun control debate you are on. These young people have the right, granted by the First Amendment of our Constitution to do what they did today.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It’s easy to become jaded. Right after the shooting in Parkland Florida, I saw an interview with a young girl. She seemed optimistic that the students could simply speak up and the world would listen and change accordingly. I couldn’t help but shake my head and think “oh, honey…you are so naïve.”
But guess what? Sometimes that idealism can change things. For better or worse, protests have been known to bring about change. There is no guarantee they will work, and it won’t happen overnight. But apathy and inaction definitely won’t lead to change.
So, I offer the nay-sayers some food for thought:
Those were all in America, but we’re not alone:
So tell me again how gathering to protest is a big fat waste of time.