TaMara and Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice have recaps of yesterday’s school kids walking out for seventeen minutes to honor the memory of those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to demand changes to gun laws at the state and federal level.
What struck me the most about this movement is that this is well-disciplined and deadly serious on the part of the participants. This is not a lark to them or a chance to cut school. They realize what’s at stake: not just their lives but the future of the country. Many of them are old enough to vote now and a lot more of them will be old enough to vote in 2020.
There have been student marches and protests before; I participated in them when I was their age: against the war in Vietnam, against segregation, for civil rights. But those were distant and abstract causes; Vietnam was a place that few of us could find on a map, and civil rights didn’t divide my white upper-middle class suburban life. What we were trying to change was an entire culture: no more war, no more racism. It was noble, it was overarching, and of course it was never going to be fully realized.
These students, these young adults, have a more specific goal in mind and are much more focused. They don’t want to change the world; they just want to make it safer. That’s not too much to ask. We didn’t do it for them, so now they’re stepping up. And it might just work this time.