On National Walk-Out Day this past Tuesday, students at thousands of American high schools left their classrooms at 10:00 a.m. to protest against gun violence such as the attack at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month that resulted in seventeen deaths. One comment I heard about the walk-out was, “What good do demonstrations accomplish?”
Students are virtually powerless. Most of the protesters are too young to vote. But their eloquence and their unwillingness to accept the status quo could help sustain attention on the issue of gun violence and the need for our society to come up with a feasible solution.
I don’t know if stricter laws are the answer. People who are determined to do evil don’t respect the law; they find ways to circumvent it.
I think what we really need in our society is more concern for others. Love should be taught by parents starting from their children’s infancy. Quality mental health care should be more readily available. Clearly, the Florida shooter was a deeply disturbed young man. But enough of my theories.
Getting back to our original question, if students can continue to challenge the national stagnancy on gun violence, I believe they may be able to influence significant change.
I read a scripture verse this morning that encouraged me in this regard. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV).”
These words were written by the apostle Paul to Timothy, whom he appointed leader of the Christian church in Ephesus. Scholars approximate Timothy’s age at around thirty, unusually young for such a high level of authority in a culture that respected the experience and wisdom of the aged. Paul’s advice to Timothy was to be above reproach in his behavior.
My counsel to young people who desire to effect change:
- Keep speaking out. Don’t give up.
- Act with integrity. Your good behavior validates your message.
Do you think young people can bring about a paradigm shift in our culture of violence? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.