Fifty years ago, grandparents of kids are who walking out of school today took to the streets.
They wanted an end to the war in Vietnam. They wanted civil rights, the eradication of poverty and pretty much everything we’re still fighting over.
They shut down campuses and upended the Democratic National Convention.
They were castigated as America-hating degenerates and traitorous scum and were advised to leave America if they didn’t love it.
They were branded as criminals by their own president, who turned out to be the biggest crook of all.
Their parents didn’t understand this rebellion against everything they held sacred, against everything they worked for, believed in and staked their own lives and identities on.
What, exactly, was so wrong with law and order?
With fresh memories of their own wartime victories and the fear of communism lingering like a ghost, their parents bought into the belief that Vietnam was still a righteous and winnable cause.
After all, the government wouldn’t lie. Would it?
Their children’s protests split households and infused a bitterness that took decades to heal.
In 2018, the grandchildren of those young rebels have learned all too tragically that being bubble-wrapped in the busyness of play dates, dance lessons and sports — that a lifetime of participation trophies, suburban living and good schools — were not enough to shield them.
They are angry — no, furious — and like their grandparents did in 1968, they are taking on a system that money has wooed and warped.
Blithe dismissals and attempts to paint them as entitled and disrespectful brats who simply don’t understand how things work is the equivalent of Capt. Edward Smith ignoring that iceberg dead ahead.
If sending your 14-year-old daughter off to school only to get her back in a box or watching your best friends bleed out doesn’t makes you an expert on gun violence, what does?
Historically, young adults don’t vote, which is why legislatures have felt safe in ignoring issues focused on that demographic. In the past decade, less than 35 percent of young adults voted, compared to 70 percent of people over age 60.
Though it should have been the tipping point, it’s why so little changed after 26 first-graders and their teachers were slaughtered in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
Isn’t there something heartbreaking, by the way, in knowing that 6-year-olds must undergo active-shooter drills?
But what makes 2018 different is that teens shocked and horrified by the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida, have figured out that change begins by changing the people in charge.
What makes it different is, this time around, kids and parents are on the same side.
Some people take issue with the national school walkout. Real education, however, isn’t found only in the confines of a classroom. There’s no better lesson than to learn you hold power to change the world.
— Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org