Over the last few days and certainly over the next few weeks (and hopefully longer) we will continue to hear the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida speak out in favor of stricter gun laws. They will hold rallies, they will lobby, they will march, they will tweet, they will travel, and good-Lord-willing-and-the-rest-of-us-not-get-in-the-way, they will achieve the seemingly impossible.
I’ve been thinking about all the things they have to say. I’ve been thinking about their courage to turn their grief into action. I’ve been thinking about how badly we’ve failed them. I’ve been thinking about how I too am a product of the school shooting generation- but at the old end, not theirs. I was in high school during the shooting at Columbine and graduate school during Virginia Tech. But mostly I’ve been thinking about how badly we can screw this moment up.
So I have some unsolicited advise. (It’s my blog, damnit.)
For those of us who count ourselves as activists, whether related to civil rights, gun control, women’s rights, racial inequality, immigration, LGBT issues, health care, public education, anti-war or anything in between, it will seem like we should help these well-meaning high schoolers out. After all, we have a wealth of experience in organizing and lobbying and campaigns, we should definitely offer them our expertise.
Resist that urge with every fiber of your being.
If these brave young folks want our help, they will ask for it.
I know Baby Boomers have a lot to say on this matter– hush. I know Gen Xers have been through some fights– listen. I know Millennials are the smartest people in the room– sit down.
These Floridians, and their allies across the country, are doing just fine. Let’s resist the urge to helicopter them, teach them, guide them, mentor them, or stand between them and their goal. Let’s just listen and when asked, get to work. All our lives are at stake.