Last week, the nation was captivated by a town in Florida. It wasn’t just the horrific shooting at Parkland’s Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 dead, that turned heads.
It was what happened afterward that caught people’s attention, something a nation accustomed to mass shootings isn’t used to: students standing up for gun control in the hopes that no other students will have to experience this same tragedy.
Each shooting starts a cycle: grieving for our losses, sending thoughts and prayers, calling for action, maybe even signing a few widely-circulated petitions. But, inevitably we all just move on.
This time the students of Stoneman Douglas are breaking the cyclical sickness that has manifested into a social norm.
You may have seen the impassioned speeches from victims or the CNN-moderated town hall between Parkland survivors and officials. You may have seen the headlines showing the kids taking on their state and national capital. You may have heard people saying, “Those kids are the real adults in the room” or “This generation gives me hope.”
Adults often underestimate the ability for young adults to take issues seriously and to take initiative. They misunderstand that students can and will make themselves heard with the hope to make a difference.
As a part of this generation, we should follow the brave example set before us. Already, we have seen this happening. Students have planned a walkout as a sign of protest. There is an organized effort to enhance school security, including students slated to speak at a city council meeting.
Student activism doesn’t have to be sparked by tragedy. It doesn’t have to regard gun control or involve the upper echelons of federal government. Change can start small and can grow from modest roots to have lasting effects.
This could be making a speech at a board meeting, organizing a petition, lobbying your school administrators or ASB members, writing a letter to your local government representatives, or even just voicing your opinion with the people around you. In the end, it’s about how much you want to see change.
Highlights has taken this responsibility to heart. In the past year, we have written editorials admonishing our student government, calling out our Board of Education, and offering a student perspective to reconfiguration.
We hope that through this piece we can convince you to do the same. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, and upperclassmen once noticed in the hallways, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”