Conventional wisdom says that the Millennial generation is universally lazy, entitled and socially stunted because they’d rather interact with a screen than with another human being. To borrow a phrase from the Millennials who survived the Valentine’s Day rampage that killed 14 classmates and 3 of their teachers in Parkland: I Call B.S.
To their credit, these teens have turned a tragedy into a call for action: They traveled to Florida’s state capitol to confront lawmakers face-to-face in Tallahassee, demanding substantive changes in gun control and mental health reform. They met with President Trump to assert their views. They are organizing the March For Our Lives in Washington. And at a nationally televised CNN town hall meeting on the topic, they held Sen. Marco Rubio’s feet to the fire for his anti-gun control agenda. (Rubio is the Republican senator from Florida with an A+ rating from the NRA.) By their example, this cadre has galvanized teens — and adults — across the country to stand with them.
In this way, students have become our teachers, providing a powerful lesson on altruism. How many of us can say that we champion a cause that is meaningful to us, and do so in a way that serves the greater good? Their actions will not bring back the 17 lives that were needlessly lost. But their impassioned social advocacy might save lives in the future. Clearly, they see the Big Picture, and it is not on a screen. It is in their hearts.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that these teens remain undeterred by obstacles in their way: recalcitrant politicians who serve the NRA that lines their pockets — the same politicians who divert funding from a mental health system that was already stretched too thin to meet the needs of our communities. Nor have the kids been cowed by Internet trolls and alt-right pundits peddling ridiculous conspiracy theories that call into question the character of these brave young souls leading the charge.
For more on lessons to be learned from this tragedy, read my latest blog post.