Must The Children Lead Us?

To the other alleged adults critiquing the Parkland survivor-activists:

They are not yet adults. Chronologically, you are. They’re not supposed to, and couldn’t possibly know everything they need to get through life, much less take responsibility for changing society. That they are taking it on and doing so with courage and considerable clarity, is laudable and should humble a great many adults who see and complain about the problems, but have done little to shake this society out of the stupor and fear that holds it in thrall and leaves us vulnerable to charlatans, violence, and greed.

Who these young activist-leaders will be, their lifelong allegiances, etc. have yet to be fully determined. They are now responding to tragic violence that shook their lives and took the lives of friends and schoolmates. They are fearless in part because of their youth, but they are also fearless because they just survived a small massacre that should never have happened. They are angry, they are mobilized, they have purpose. It doesn’t make them perfect or demons, it makes them human and it makes them a force to be reckoned with.

Historically, revolutionaries come from every class. Most workers are no more revolutionary than the capitalists they work for. People occasionally wake up (or are awakened) and once they really do, they move to throw off the shackles of oppression where they find it: in the family, by race, gender, or class. If one is really awake, there is no choice. Stasis becomes intolerable and one must act to change the situation and circumstances.

To expect middle class high school kids who’ve been suddenly traumatized by murders to have done a realpolitik or other sophisticated analysis of their own class socialization is ridiculous. Most adults never have, so why expect it of them? Who were you in high school? How woke did you think you were and then how old were you before you realized you had just been turning over in your sleep?

These kids can’t go back to sleep. For better or worse, they’ve joined the millions of other traumatized, woke or awakening young folk from various walks of life. The difference is, these kids have a platform that allows them to be heard. You didn’t listen to the Black and Indigenous and Latino and and various other kids who’ve been victimized by violence for, oh, centuries. But you can see and hear these kids and apparently, that an uncomfortable situation that you’re bracing against. I get that, I just don’t care about your comfort. I’ve never believed in unrequited love and have little concern for those who display no concern for others. So take a proverbial chill pill, do some self reflective analysis and ask yourself why you’re so heavily invested in (figuratively) shooting these young people down? There are always critiques to be made, but when, how, and to what purpose are good questions to ask before jumping on the media blitz.

Again: adults should have done the work and adults should be picking up the slack now. If you don’t trust these kids, teach them in solidarity, otherwise you’re not far different than the conservative “critics” who practice overtly divisive tactics. It’s simple: lead, follow, or sit down quietly, out of the way of those who are doing the work.

And to those who think these kids are the group messiah: they’re not. Do your own work, stop waiting for saviors, and stop putting it all on a group of very bright, very courageous, but also very young, traumatized youths.

Everybody, please grow up.

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