Young people are rising up in this country! Today my students were full of energy, imagining a better world, one with respect and fairness as core values. Emboldened by the example of high school children organizing in Florida after last week’s mass shooting, one young man asked, “But where are we going, what kind of world can we build, what comes next?” He said he feels like “we are driving through a hail storm and we can’t see where we are going.” All semester this young man has expressed his concern that too often we speak of ‘equality’ when what we need is the maturity to think about ‘equity’ – real fairness, not just sameness.
A young woman in the class made a diagram to illustrate how voting might be conducted and tallied to avoid hacking in the future, and brought it to me after class. Earlier, during class, she said “People have been divided into small groups and each group has been encouraged to believe that they have no power. But now people are learning that they have power when they stand together.” Until recently this young woman never spoke a word in class. Now she speaks with authority, and what she has to say energizes those who choose to listen to her.
Another young woman said, “At first when I learned what European Americans did to indigenous people I wondered why they didn’t fight back more viciously and do the same thing back to the people who were torturing and killing them and taking their land. But now I see that by keeping to their traditional values, Native Americans show us that a better world is possible. We could learn to live together and solve our problems if first we adopt the values of respect, humility, courage, generosity and compassion.”
Today young people are laying their bodies down for social justice in Washington D.C., and in other cities around the country they are speaking out, angry and determined. They say they have had enough. They want change. They are calling out our national leaders, identifying the betrayals, the lies and the policies that are undermining all that is good in this world. I stand with them, inspired and hopeful.
We have to stop accusing our politicians of ‘acting like children’. If only that were so; if only we could be led through this hail storm by people who seek a road that leads to social justice and equity for all, as these courageous children do.