Young people can change the world. They have been doing it for millennia. Twenty year olds and younger have been beaten, abused and, in at least one notable case, burned at the stake for using their voices to effect change. We know it can be done. However, our more current generations have seemed less inclined to use their voices than past generations. At the Arka Tech, we want to encourage (and implore and beg) you to use your voice. It works.
On Feb. 14 of this year, Nikolas Cruz strode onto the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School campus in Parkland, Florida and opened fire. He killed 17 people, wounded 17 others, and more than likely caused lasting mental and emotional trauma for countless others.
President Trump tweeted his condolences to those affected, saying “no child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” But several Parkland students had their own ideas.
Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez, Alex Wind, Jaclyn Corin and David Hogg are students at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School. And they began a movement that “may turn out to be the most powerful grassroots gun-reform movement in nearly two decades,” according to Charlotte Alter in her Time magazine article “The School Shooting Generation Has Had Enough.”
These teens started the #NeverAgain movement the day after 17 of their teachers and classmates were gunned down. And they don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon as evidenced by their Time magazine cover.
And they have managed to bring about real change.
On March 9, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 7026 into law (known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act). This law tightens gun control in multiple ways. However, the law also allows some teachers (with the approval of local law enforcement) to be armed.
One of the major caveats of the law is that it raises the minimum age to purchase firearms from 18-years-old to 21-years-old in Florida.
Of course, the NRA immediately filed a lawsuit against Florida. According to CNN, the lawsuit states that “the age-minimum section of the law violates the second and 14th amendments of the US Constitution.”
Since the enactment of the law, there has been major uprising in Florida. From states suing to make their own gun laws to just general unrest. That will probably last for some time.
But the point is—this all started with five hurt, scared and pissed off teenagers.
And this isn’t the first time that teens have changed the course of history.
Joan of Arc was just 16-years-old when she went to the Dauphin of France and told him to take back his throne from the English, which he then did. At 16, Joan of Arc changed the course of France’s history.
Anne Frank’s diary has become one of the most famous records of the Holocaust. It single-handedly gave a human side to the statistics. Again, Anne was no more than 16-years-old.
More recently, Malala Yousafzai has been working to change women’s rights in the Middle East. Malala’s campaigns for women’s right to education and her criticisms of the Taliban got her shot in the head by a member of the Taliban. Luckily, Malala survived and “has become a leading spokesperson for human rights, education and women’s rights,” according to biographyonline.net. Malala was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her work. At the time, she was just 17-years-old.
Using your voice works. It has been proven time and again throughout history and today that you (yes, you) have a voice and that it can make a change.
But many of us don’t appear to be using it.
There are outliers. Like the five teens from Parkland and others who have stood up against violence or injustice. But people our age (yeah, here’s that term you hate), the Millennials, aren’t voting as much as previous generations.
Millennials overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders in his campaign to become president. But, when it became clear Sanders wouldn’t get the nomination, many Millennials stayed at home on Election Night.
In an article in The Washington Post, Russell Dalton theorizes about why Millennials don’t vote. Many people believe that Millennials simply don’t care. Dalton, however, found that Millennials are “about as interested in politics as prior generations.” He also found that Millennials are involved in local communities and volunteering.
What Dalton did find was that there has become a trend, starting with the ‘80s generation, of less political involvement in youth, and exponentially more political involvement in later years.
Which means, other people are making decisions about our future for us.
This doesn’t fly with us here at the Arka Tech. We want you to use your voice to stand up for the things you believe in. We aren’t necessarily asking you to start a ground breaking grassroots movement or an internationally trending hashtag on Twitter. We are asking you to use what voice you have to make a difference for what you believe in. Vote. Volunteer. Blast it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Talk to your friends about politics. Get involved. Make changes you want to see. Don’t waste your voice or your time. And don’t let other people decide what laws need to be enacted. Decide for yourself.