Exceedingly rare are news media estimates acknowledging the presence of 800,000 demonstrators on the streets of the nation’s capital. In a protest that took place just a few weeks ago and has been utterly forgotten since, at least a million schoolkids walked out on a schoolday and assembled peacefully in Washington and other cities to demand safety and security from armed raiders. The participants may not know this, but it’s a pretty modest demand from a movement that can turn out this number of young, fit, conscientious citizens for an airing of grievances.
If you visit the website of March for Our Lives, you find a fund-raising page and a petition you can sign demanding strict regulation of certain kinds of firearms. I’d like to see this assembly of schoolkids broaden their demands, and maybe create a social institution to see that they’re met. Enough of them have gathered at one time to qualify them as representatives of a generation, and not just any generation. Rather, they are the generation that will inherit responsibility for the corrupt shred of a republic that we still call the United States of America.
If they were a group of investors–as they are–they would demand an accounting before accepting liability. What would an accounting conducted with “due diligence” disclose about the assets and liabililties of the USA? Answers to this question should be the demand of America’s youth, and all its efforts should be directed to elucidating and classifying the elements of a “due diligence” accounting.
Those who hit voting age this year might like to know what sort of damage has been sustained by the national economy, what prospects are for a few decades of clean air and water, whether spending more than the rest of the world combined on arms and ammo might be excessive, how much is owed in the way of war debt, whether their news sources are corrupted by commercial forces, whether race discrimination has tainted the nation’s moral sense, to what extent rich people are looting public property, etc. Even the younger kids might demand an accounting from their parents, an accounting that includes the parent’s political involvement, this year, to ensure that the demands of young people are met.
You may have spent a couple of hours listening to some of the oratory delivered in Washington and elsewhere. Maybe you saw an interview with one of Dr. King’s grandkids. You would have had trouble finding extended coverage. Youtube gives you one interruption after another. But the quality of critical thinking and the rhetorical command of the speakers, even ten- and eleven-year-olds, came through intact.
Whether this is to be a movement or a fund-raising tactic will be up to the participants. They must know that they are in line to inherit badly damaged goods. Many of us elders ask whether we have equipped them to handle the life-or-death problems we created for them. They can’t be unaware of the possibility that they or their children could be the last generation, even though the topic’s not discussed openly. Maybe it ought to be. What if an accounting made with due diligence were to reveal a mortal danger to their survival? Are they not entitled to know? Is their present value now to be discounted for miseries and privations we are bequeathing them?
They should demand an accounting. They should increase pressure with every passing week. They should see themselves as soldiers. They have already shown that they are far braver than their parents, who allowed their nation to descend so deeply into the filth of war and oppression. They have an opportunity to unite, in huge numbers, behind reason and values. If you know one of these kids, say something.