EDITORIAL: Kids these days…


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It was a week ago when students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were grieving the loss of their classmates and teachers after a gunman opened fire in the school building, killing 17 people. Survivors from the massacre have been vocal ever since, turning their grief into action and demanding legislative change. High schoolers are giving the nation’s leaders an ear full, and this should make everyone hopeful.

CNN facilitated a town hall meeting Wednesday to give these students, parents and teachers the chance to speak directly to these leaders, including Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, Rep. Ted Deutch, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.

“I want you to know that I’m actually extremely excited about your engagement, and I’ll tell you why,” Rubio said to the students at the town hall. “Because I think you have a chance to do a lot more than change gun laws. You should push for that. You have a chance to do a lot more than that. You have a chance to change the way we talk about politics in this country.”

High school students grilled the panel, holding nothing back, a passion that is refreshing and exciting. These young people are angry and ready for a change, and America wasn’t expecting some of our loudest voices to come from some so young, some even too young to vote. Ideally, they shouldn’t have to. These are high school kids who have had to take on a role that the adults charged with protecting and serving them have proven unable to fulfill. What should not be lost on the nation is that these are kids. They should be doing kid things, like preparing for the prom or going to track practice or studying for the ACT, but instead they have taken on the role as champions for the gun control debate

“Why do we have to be the ones to do this?” senior Ryan Deitsch questioned of Rubio. “Why do we have to speak out to the capitol? Why do we have to march on Washington just to save innocent lives?”

As the nation watched in awe of these courageous and powerful young people, many were impressed, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, who tweeted out a strong message: “We’ve been waiting for you. We’ve got your backs.”

While people like Obama lauded these passionate and engaged young people, they were also met with criticism, being identified as disrespectful, a common rebuke from the older generation to the younger.

Fox News host Todd Starnes tweeted on Thursday night, “this crowd is hostile. Do the kids speak to their parents and teachers with the same level of disrespect?” This tweet led him to poll the parents in his Twitter audience, asking what their response would be, “if your child lectured and ridiculed a U.S. Senator on national television.”

These tweets were followed by harsh criticisms from Twitter users, with most in support and defense of the kids being subject to the Twitter bashing.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) replied: “how quaint that some folks are more concerned about kids speaking respectfully than the fact that 17 kids were slaughtered with an assault rifle.”

As a nation, we should be proud of these kids, whether we agree with them or not. These are kids who have lived through a trauma so great that many of us cannot ever imagine. These are kids who are angry and devastated, and they want to make a difference so that it never happens to another kid.

“My school is not going to be another statistic in the 18 shootings that happened this year,” freshman Michelle Lapido said. “My school’s going to be the last and the beginning of gun control. Stoneman Douglas is strong and will be heard, because our kids and our staff did not die for nothing.”

These brave students are engaging in the democratic process, making their voices heard and demanding change from the people holding power to change it. They have the ability to break the stereotype that the younger generation is lazy and apathetic. Rather, they are making a statement that the young demographic is rising up with tears in their eyes and passion in their hearts. Their empathy is something that has become rare in political discourse, and it is a beautiful sight to see.

These are the future leaders of the nation, and the country watches with hopeful anticipation as these impressive students take their rightful place in our democracy.

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