Time To Listen

I’m pretty old. Like many of us, I’ve been talking a long time. These last few weeks I have realized that it is time to listen.

The older generation often looks on the upcoming generation with curiosity and a dash of terror. How could they be so – fill in the blank — foolish, immature, unfocused, superficial, and on and on. How can they possibly function with their noses (and brains) buried in some device, a device that we in my generation are proud just to be able to turn on and off? They will never learn to communicate, we despair. They will lose all ability to relate to another human being. Look at them, texting each other while sitting shoulder to shoulder on the bus!

I confess I’ve said all this myself, but no more. Since the Parkland shooting, I have closed my gaping jaw and listened to some of the most articulate, smart, committed voices I have heard in a long time. Strong, passionate voices. Fearless, young faces. They command the stage, the podium, the press conference. They demand that we listen. They are laser-focused and they mean it.

I am inspired and I am relieved. All this time I thought it was still my cause to lead, whatever that cause might be. My generation was there to protest the Vietnam war, to fight for civil rights, to defend the environment, to point out injustice where we saw it. As I have aged, inevitably so have my energy and enthusiasm, and for the past many years, I told myself that I was lucky to have lived in a golden age of activism, one that we would not see again. How self-centered! And how delighted I am to be corrected!

The Parkland students have taken the lead, but they have partners all over the country, including from Aztec, a small, rural community in northwestern New Mexico. The community is conservative, many homes have guns and many students have grown up knowing how to handle them.  This student population may not have a natural affinity with the mainstream anti-gun crowd, but they share something profound: the terror of gun violence in school.

On December 7, 2017, a young gunman opened fire at Aztec High School, killing two students, Paco Fernandez and Casey Jordan-Marquez. Aztec High immediately became one in a long list of schools suffering the same tragedy – the loss of one or more in their school community to gun violence. School was no longer, and never would be again, the safe place they had known.

Four students from Aztec joined the movement and traveled to Washington DC for the demonstration on March 24 to end gun violence. They were able to connect with others who had survived the same nightmare and feel the strength of their numbers and the power of their message. They also took advantage of being in the Capitol to take their message to their senator. A local TV station, KOB-TV interviewed the four students before they went and covered them at the protest and in the office of their Senator. I am so proud of the Aztec Four. They will become educated on the issue, and in the process find their own messages and voices.

All over the country students are speaking out in a broad, diverse and powerful movement. I am watching and I am listening, with gratitude. I will offer support however I can.

Read about the Aztec High students in DC  

https://www.abqjournal.com/1150205/aztec-students-find-strength-in-numbers-at-dc-gun-rally.html

Left to right: Bastian Paschall, Laurel Paschall, Irin Hofmann, Elisabeth Valencia at march in DC on March 24. They are holding a “sign” they made representing the Zia symbol from the NM state flag with the names of slain students.

 

 

10 thoughts on “Time To Listen”

  1. Oh, Lucy. Isn’t it wonderful? It’s awesome and reassuring at the same time. Their message is so clear and they are focused on registering voters. I had experienced a lot of cynicism from the 20 year olds I know and was discouraged by that. I worried that our system cannot survive without participation and that requires faith in it. I didn’t expect to be rejuvenated in my mid-eighties. You’re right – we need to listen and backup when we can. And, of course, get our friends and families out to vote. Cheers, Jane

    1. Thank you, Jane. It’s exciting to me — a passionate and committed voter — that these students are focusing on that. They believe they can make it work, and so do I!

  2. Thanks for this wise and humble comment. I feel the same. I didn’t realize how much discounting of these bright young people I had done until I noticed my surprise at their courage and insights.

    1. I agree, Anne. It’s a good surprise, and one that makes me think a lot about generations that came before and generations that come after. Our particular spot on that string of beads is unique at any given moment and it is critical to see how we relate to the beads within our reach.

  3. YES, absolutely it’s all about the amazing, articulate kids! However, what you fail to mention — since you are not one to toot your own horn — is that the 4 Aztec students were able to be a part of the march in Washington because you began the whole process of getting them there. You spoke with key people in the Aztec community and along with an equally motivated Santa Fean gathered together a few very generous individuals to fund the D. C. trip for those teenagers. Brava! They will not forget. Jan M. 8Pg7

    1. You outed me… it’s all true, but not what I wanted to highlight, except to say that there are ways we older people can help the younger ones, with money but also in so many creative ways — if we listen and follow their lead.

  4. Lucy
    Your words expressed what is in my heart
    about our fierce, awesome & amazing youth
    of all races & genders. They are our future…there is hope. I am moved to support them in any way I can. We have a 16 year old grandson son who is a high school student in the same area as the Parkland, Fl. school..by the grace of God…his school was spared. 🙏🏾

    1. Many thanks, Wanda. We are all a part of this, each event touches us. I am so grateful your grandson is OK and wonder how his life is changed by this.

  5. I agree with all of you. I have been awed and amazed by the intelligence, and the search for the truth these young people have displayed. They are so very articulate, and so in tune with their generation in expressing their views. I am now so very hopeful that we leave the planet to a generation that is well suited to lead.

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