There's Nothing Surprising About The Vocal Activism Of Parkland's Teenagers

There's Nothing Surprising About The Vocal Activism Of Parkland's Teenagers

Teens have always been fighters.

As the survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida stand up for themselves - organizing marches, confronting lawmakers and lobbyists on live television, and inspiring walkouts across the nation - the world watches with surprise.

Whether or not that surprise is positive (“Wow! You go, kids!”) or negative (“They must be paid actors!”) varies. But surprise is the overwhelming feeling I see expressed on social media and in news clips.

Frankly, I feel this surprise is unwarranted. And some people on Twitter feel the same.

The caricature of the careless teenager is incredibly misguided. If there’s one thing that young people do well, it’s care. Things matter to them, and deeply. What that thing is varies among different people, of course. It could be friends, or grades, or their hobbies. Whatever it is, it matters, and they care about them.

Often the things that teens care about are seen as unimportant by adults, so the depth of the care about those things goes unnoticed. This lack of notice is a mistake.

Young people care deeply enough to fight for the things they care about.

They fight without politeness, without hesitation, without letting the idea that someone else thinks that they’re wrong get in their way. They fight to win, because it matters to them that they protect the thing they care about. Sometimes the fight is for classroom popularity. Sometimes the fight is for a high-ranking spot on a sports team. Right now, the fight of teenagers in Parkland and across the United States of America is for their lives – and it’s the same level of care, and the same kind of fight.

Young people are fighters. They always have been. We just don’t often notice their battlefields.

And this is by no means the only time that young people have fought for something that an adult would see as important. The two tweets below are part of a thread that shares the stories of Barbara Johns and Diane Nash, teens who fought against segregation. I highly encourage you to click the images and read more.

People commonly refer to young people as “the future.” But they are, perhaps more importantly, the present.

The Parkland teenagers, and all the others they have inspired, are not politicians trying to keep a job, or actors trying to present a role, or anyone else doing what they do for a paycheck. They are doing what they do because they care. They are fighting for their lives because they care. They are not rebels without a cause, though some adults would encourage them to be that stereotype instead of actual people that need to be reckoned with. They are rebels with the most important cause of all, and the drive to see this fight through to the end.

At this point, the truly careless thing would be to dismiss and ignore them.

Cover Image Credit: CNN//Screenshot

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To The Senior Graduating High School In A Month

"What feels like the end, is often the beginning."

It wasn’t too long ago that I was in your shoes. Just a little over a year ago, I was the senior that had a month left. One month left in the hometown that I grew up in. One month left with the friends that I didn’t want to leave. One month left in the place that I had called “my school” for the past four years. You are probably thinking the same things I thought whenever it came down to only 30 days left. You’re probably scared, nervous, worried, or anxious. Maybe you’re like me and are dying to get out of high school, ready to start a new chapter. Or maybe you aren’t so ready yet. Maybe you’re wishing for a little more time.

As scary as it is, this month you have left will fly by. You’ll blink and you’ll be standing in your cap and gown, waiting for your name to be called to receive your diploma. You’ll look back on your last four years at your school and wonder why time went by so fast. It’ll be bittersweet. However, trust me when I say that you have so much to look forward to. You are about to begin taking the steps to build your future. You are going to grow and learn so much more than any high school class could teach you. You are going to meet amazing people and accomplish amazing things. So, as scared as you might be, I encourage you to take that first step out of your comfort zone and face this world head on. Chase your dreams and work towards your goals. You are smart. You are brave. You are capable of achieving amazing things. All your life, the lessons you have learned have prepared you for this point in your life. You are more than ready.

There are times when you will feel alone, scared, or confused. There are times when it won’t always be easy. But those are the times when you will shine the most because I know you will work through whatever problems you may face. Don’t think of the bad times as a terrible thing. Use them all as learning experiences. As author Joshua Marine once said, “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

You might think that this is the end. However, it’s not. This is only the beginning. Trust me when I say that the adventures and opportunities you are about to face are nothing compared to high school. Whether you are going to college, going to work, or something else, this is the beginning of your journey called life. It will be exciting, it will be terrifying, but it will all be worth it.

So, as you walk out of your high school for the very last time, I encourage you to take a deep breath. Relax. You’ll always have the memories to look back on from high school. But your time is now, it begins today. Embrace it.

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.


Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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