by Nina Auslander
Perhaps one of the worst parts about being a teenager is the universal scorn coming from any generation older than you. Everyday, articles are written about the idiotic challenges your generation is starting, and the various cultural norms your generation is eroding with your outlandish behavior.
As you may have noticed, this trend has abruptly stopped with the Parkland shooting. Teenagers across the country have been praised for their activism. While it may feel refreshing to bask in the praise, it does leave one wondering. Why now? What’s special about our generation? Why did the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High start a revolution where others failed?
Perhaps it helps to examine the context of this movement. As the New York Times observes after a mass shooting, “The national response plays out in a rote, almost performative way. The outcry lasts only a few days before guns fade back into the background noise of American politics.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Parkland Shooting, the atmosphere felt similar. Already, the nation seemed resigned to another round of infighting, followed by nothing.
Yet, a couple of days later, the voices of student activists David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez (along with others) emerged from the rubble to tell their side of the story.
Why are the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students so effective?
Unlike most public schools across the nation, Marjory Stoneman has a strong commitment to debate skills, student journalism, and student speech. According to Slate, “ [the] school system boasts, for example, of a ‘system-wide debate program that teaches extemporaneous speaking from an early age.”’ Every middle and high school in the district has a forensics and public-speaking program. Coincidentally, some of the students at Stoneman Douglas had been preparing for debates on the issue of gun control this year, which explains in part why they could speak to the issues from day one.”
What’s special about our generation?
Well besides our apparent propensity to eat certain laundry products, our generation is coming of age during a rather turbulent time in America. Reared under the the shadow of 9/11 and raised during an age where active shooter drills began in kindergarten, the thought of imminent danger looms above us. Yet, (supposedly) we are not as cynical as those who came before us. We haven’t lost our ability to believe that change is possible in America, even if it is hard to come by.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 15 months or so, than you would be pretty surprised by the amount of activism in today’s American politics. From the Women’s March to the March for our Lives, marching one’s outrage has become pretty de rigueur for today’s liberals. This has certainly helped the recent gun control movement gain steam.
by Dani Cooke
We all know that Watershed is a small community in a small residential neighborhood in a small yet ultra-progressive city—so, when about fifty of us decide to walk out of class and sit on the pavement by the front office, the world doesn’t exactly take note.
To me—and many other students with which I’ve spoken—these are beyond difficult times. It is far too easy to feel helpless and small, so when students are getting shot in their classrooms, the only way we know to respond is to get up and hope someone notices what it’s like when we’re gone.
We talk with our friends. We hug our parents. We read the news. We get coffee and sleep too late and binge-watch Netflix when we should be doing homework.
And when armed with paper and pen, we write. We demand change.
Over the course of the walkout, Sam Andrews and I organized one major action component to offset the seemingly futile nature of our civil disobedience: a write-in. Lasting all of seventeen minutes, these letters were brief but mighty.
Dozens signed pre-printed letters to Congress. Almost fifty used an online form to send a letter in their name. A handful of students and teachers even hand-wrote letters of their own. All of these were sent to Cory Gardner (R), one of our Colorado state senators who still opposes greater implementation of legislation against gun violence. Additionally, brief notes were sent to senator Michael Bennett (D) and representative Jared Polis (D) thanking them for their policy-based action in Congress to prevent future mass shootings.
This was more than just a walk-out, and the work is far from over. Want to send your own letter? Write your own or send a pre-written letter in your name at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VGC6LV6.