Re: Response to student demonstrations
“The blind leading the blind.”
To put it lightly, it has been disappointing to read how a large number of grown people are responding to students demonstrating the past few weeks. As an educator, I’m generally not surprised when those who are not lucky enough to spend most of their time around young people forget that they are living, breathing humans who are fully capable of forming their own thoughts and ideas. That being said, it’s impossible not to find myself frustrated as I watch adults attempt to shame, silence and ridicule students with voices.
First off, these groups of demonstrators are made up of diverse individuals, who come from varied life experiences and most likely have different opinions on how to create a better world. However, they’ve chosen to courageously come together at this moment for a shared purpose. To be clear, it seems as though the collective message from these “misguided kids,” is something like: “We refuse to accept the fact that we do not feel safe at school.”
In response, negative reactions from real-life adults have ranged from:
“You’ve been brainwashed.”
“Get back to class/Instagram/Tide Pods.”
“Just be nicer.”
If you’re working to prove that you are the person with the better ideas, that may be a tough sell when your first resort is to belittle kids trying to bring about change. Dismissing others due to their age, opinion or background is a surefire way to prove your own ignorance. Is the message of these students less valid because they are young? Or because you disagree? Though it’s not unreasonable to say that with life experience comes wisdom, it is completely ludicrous to take that to mean adults have got it all figured out. Furthermore, you’re unlikely to win anybody over when your debate techniques include name-calling, eye-rolling and meme-posting.
Right now seems like a time ripe for learning and growth for everyone, regardless of age or circumstance. When presented with the opportunity to partake in a challenging dialogue, how do you chose to respond? When met with someone you disagree with, do you demean them — working to discredit their feelings and disparage their message? Perhaps you could first try to improve your own. If you’re confident you can develop a message stronger than “You’re wrong,” maybe take a page out of these kids’ book and organize, march, demonstrate.
While you are strengthening your argument, it may be worth your time to listen to what these young people have to say. At best, you could find yourself inspired or learning something new. At the very least, you might just avoid sounding a little less…misguided.
Marchers deserve respect
Re: March for Our Lives Protest
The students who exercised their First Amendment rights by organizing and participating in the March for Our Lives protest for gun reform deserve our praise and support. The personal attacks and baseless accusations they have faced in response to their civic engagement show an ugly and disappointing side of Sheridan.
Quinnipiac University reports that 66 percent of Americans support stricter gun control laws and 67 percent support an outright ban on assault weapons; 83 percent support a mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases, while 97 percent support universal background checks. At the end of the day, March for Our Lives is a moderate movement for sensible gun laws; anyone who believes otherwise has not been listening. By resorting to name-calling and bullying, those who oppose the movement do nothing but divert attention from the pressing issue at hand: American children are dying at an alarming rate as a result of gun violence.
Young people have been at the forefront of virtually every major social movement in American history — from child labor laws, to the civil rights movement, to immigrants’ rights and beyond. The students across the country who marched for their right to live — including the students who marched on Sheridan’s Main Street — are carrying forth a powerful and quintessentially American tradition. To those students and their adult allies: Though you have faced vitriol both online and off, know that you are on the right side of history. Millions around the world support your voices, even if your neighbors in Sheridan don’t.
Sheridan resident currently living in India