Most of all, I say these demonstrating students are learning more than they would in any classroom.
The students are learning they have a voice. They have an inner voice, one that exists as they stretch out silently on the pavement to represent a dead person shot down by a gun. They have a scream, as in shouting out a slogan or expressing their anger at losing someone they cared about in the school hallway. The students have a professional voice to use when meeting with an official to discuss laws and reform.
They are learning that some people will be angry with them, some will agree with them, and some people just won’t care what they do. Thus, these young people will be better prepared for their futures when someone agrees to work with them, or hurts their feelings, or could care less if they exit at all. These students have years to go before they speak in shaky voices, leaning on canes and wheelchair arms to tell their story of how they fought for a change. And they will tell of those who were ambivalent to that change, but how there were also people who actually listened to them and helped make those changes. These student activists are the emotionally strong people of the future.
The protesting students will see there is more to life than how fancy your cellphone is, how much your clothes cost, who likes you, and if you are popular. They are learning that freedom is far more important. The right to say what you think and the right to vote affect our lives in many more ways, and having good friends is crucial. Because when these 2018 school shooting survivors look back to their high school days in so many years, they won’t remember the big football game or the prom; they will remember they lost their good friend to violence, and all of the money in the world could not bring that friend back to life. They are the people in the future who will truly understand what matters most in life.
The students who survived these 2018 school shootings and are taking a stand may or may not change their country politically, socially, or economically. But they will be far more educated. They are learning life lessons that schools cannot afford to teach. The student protesters are the voices, the emotionally strong people, who will know what matters most. So we damn well better listen to them now, while we have a chance to learn.