This generation might just change the world
Today’s tweens and teens have never known a world without terrorism, economic uncertainty and climate change.
They are interconnected globalists, naturally seeking out information from across the world because they have grown up with the internet, social media and portable technology.
Diversity, same-sex marriage, transgender people – teens have not had to adjust or be taught to be inclusive. This is what they know.
But mass shootings – that’s also part of their world, just like mass shooter safety drills and the awareness that this could happen at their school, or anywhere and at any time.
Generation Z, what demographers describe as children born in 1996 and later, have witnessed injustice and unfairness throughout their lives, creating a generation of realists and activists. They want change, and they consider themselves agents of that change.
Enter a group of teens, survivors of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students and teachers, slain by an AR-15 assault weapon bought and wielded by a recently expelled student.
Within days of experiencing the worst horror in their young lives, a group of student organizers has taken to traditional media and social media to make their voices heard. Students and their families are organizing the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. on March 24, with other marches taking place that same day across the country. They want gun control legislation, and they want it now.
“The message for the people in office is this: You’re either with us or against us,” Cameron Kasky, a junior at the high school and organizer, told CNN. “We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around.”
These teens were in elementary and middle school when 20 young children were killed in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and federal gun legislation did not pass in the wake of that massacre. From their point of view, the adults who were supposed to protect them let them down, so they’ll just have to fix it themselves.
Will this group of students be able to do what could not be done in 2012? In an even more politically polarized environment?
If any generation can mobilize to take up a cause, this one will given their technological proficiency, ability to communicate, their socially conscious nature, and a desire to reshape a world that has been difficult to grow up in.
Some adults, including lawmakers, may be quick to dismiss the actions by a group of teens. That would be a mistake.
An ever-increasing number of the members of Generation Z, now a quarter of the population and an estimated third of the population by 2020, are heading to the polls as they turn 18.
I wouldn’t underestimate them or their budding political awareness. They might just change the world.