It’s been a little over two months since the devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – an event that changed not only the lives of countless families that lost sons, daughters and friends, but also America’s political landscape. The tragedy that occurred in Parkland, Fla., reignited debate about gun control in the United States, and in the weeks following the shooting, fervor surrounding this issue has risen to never-before-seen heights.
Regardless of your political affiliation or opinions on this topic, it’s clear to see that one of the most notable outcomes of the recent debate is the surge of high school students taking a stand for safety. One may agree or disagree with their position, yet their influence is undeniable. The Parkland teens, who have served as the young leaders of a renewed movement for gun reform, have not let their ages deter them from using their voices. Their words and actions have inspired members of the younger generation to advocate for their beliefs, whatever they may be.
Fairly or unfairly, I think that the youth of today often get a bad reputation. We are the teens who grew up with technology and always seem to have our phones in our hands. We are the teens who appear to prefer parties and sleeping to conversations and studying. We are the teens who are generally viewed as lazy, entitled and narcissistic. These are the stereotypes surrounding my generation – stereotypes that may have a certain element of truth in them, but stereotypes that unfortunately lead to an extremely negative perception of today’s teenagers.
The Parkland students have proven to the world that we are more than what preconceived notions have reduced us to. Our phones are tools that give us the platform to make a difference. A good deal of our time is spent having fun, yes, but we are also committed to making the world around us a better place. Rather than lazy, entitled and narcissistic, we are dedicated, persistent and brave. We are a force to be reckoned with, we are warriors unafraid to take a stand for what we believe is right, and the world will be ours one day. Isn’t that enough reason to have at least a little faith in today’s youth?
But I see this light and determination in more than just the Parkland activists. In fact, I see it in those around me every day. I see it when a student is left without a partner during a class project and someone opens their familiar friend group to let that outsider in. I see it when my fellow theater kids, despite the competition and jealousy traditionally involved in our chosen activity, consistently support one another at performances. I see it when my Instagram feed reveals posts of solidarity for Marjory Stoneman Douglas and support for those they do not even know.
You can think what you will about the Parkland teens, and you can think what you will about my generation. But I have hope that by finding our voices, we have the power to change the world for the better. I’m honored to be part of this remarkable group of young people, and I believe that as we continue to learn and grow, we can ensure a brighter future for everyone.
Emma Chrusciel is a senior at Geneva High School. In addition to writing, she loves Broadway musicals, playing piano, and spending time with her family and friends. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.