Time and time again, young activists like Emma Gonzalez and Greta Thunberg are not being taken seriously – but they should be.
Half of the politicians who acknowledge them brush them aside and the other half give them a clap on the back and nothing more.
Survivors don’t want thoughts and prayers – they want action and results.
Due to their age, young activists are seen as inept or lacking the knowledge on the issues they face on a daily basis. Many people have even gone as far to call them hired actors so they don’t have to take their words seriously.
Benjamin Kelly, district secretary for U.S. Rep. Shawn Harrison, emailed a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times that several students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the scene of a mass school shooting Feb. 14, 2018, were hired crisis activists “that travel to various crises when they happen.”
Even President Trump belittled climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, in one of several tweets, including retweeting a post by one of his supporters whose username is @Opinion8dKellie, who calls her an “actress” and “kiddo.”
What these people do not have that survivors do is first-hand experience. Yet even the experience we all face with climate change is ignored by too many people with the power to change it.
In the words of Trevor Noah, late night host of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” “If kids are old enough to be shot, they’re old enough to have an opinion about being shot.”
This idea also applies to any other issue the general public faces. If it affects us, we are capable of having an opinion on it.
Young people these days have better access to information than they did when older generations were their age. Schools have been improved. The information of the whole Internet is in the palm of our hands.
In school, from elementary grades through higher education, the information students are given are to be taken as literal and informative. Yet when they use this information, the actual history of the world and scientific facts proven by accredited doctors, they are called liars or juveniles who don’t know what they’re talking about.
What’s more disturbing than the words of the youth being overlooked is the fact that their words are informed by facts and inspired by real events. To dismiss these factors is to discredit the American school system, which creates a new issue.
If what we are being taught in school is not accepted in the “real world,” then what information can we trust?
Scientists are ignored, activists are discredited, survivors are silenced. Facts are real – that is part of their definition. They are indisputable, yet way too often ignored.
What will it take for real-life problems to be seen as more than imagination? When will death tolls be taken seriously, as a call to action rather than a tragedy in vain?
Older, more stubborn generations have forgotten they are the ones who passed that characteristic down to us. We will not back down, and we will save the world from their mistakes.
But do we have the time?