Thursday, February 22, 2018

Are We Seeing The Start Of A New Youth Revolution ?

(This AP photo by Brynn Anderson is from The Seattle Times.)

I am old enough to have experienced the youth revolution of the 1960's and 1970's. Youth in the Baby Boomer generation rose up and challenged the way things were done in the United States. They were for free speech and equal rights, and against war and discrimination. And as adults began to join that revolution, the country was profoundly changed.

As the country changed, that revolution was absorbed into the larger society. Since that time, America's youth have largely been silent. No widespread youth movements have survived. We saw in the last election a small youth movement to support Bernie Sanders. But that was political, and seemed to die out once the election was over.

The crisis of gun violence may be starting a new youth revolution. This crisis in gun violence is not new. For many years, this country has led the developed world in the number of gun deaths per capita, the number of gun murders per capita, and the number of mass shootings per capita (and this figure, already averaging more than one every day, is rising).

But the latest mass shooting (that occurred at a high school in Parkland, Florida) seems to have ignited a spark among young people. Young people are rising up and speaking out against the gun violence, and they are demanding action. They are angry, and they have the mastery of modern tools like cell phones and the internet to spread their anger to their peers across the nation.

Is this the start of a youth movement that will inflame the passions of the youth in our nation, and bring them together to initiate social change? It could be. I am encouraged by the passion they display alongside the reality they show by knowing there will be no overnight solutions. If they really mean what they say, they could actually accomplish some changes to slow gun violence -- and it could even spread to make other changes in our society and government.

I could be wrong. This youth movement could die out as quickly as it started. But I hope it survives, and grows. We need changes to our society and government, and this nation's youth could be the leaders in that change -- change that we adults have failed to make.

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