A perfect storm has been brewing in the United States.
Our polarized political climate has invited feuds between opposing political parties around any and every issue that is important to our fellow citizens.
But with the rise and fall of controversial topics in the media, gun control — or the lack thereof — is the not-so-new “hot topic.”
June 12, 2017: Pulse Nightclub — Orlando, Florida.
Oct. 1, 2017: Route 91 Harvest Festival — Las Vegas.
Feb. 14, 2018: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — Parkland, Florida.
This conversation held throughout the media and among communities regarding these tragedies is often cyclical and familiar.
However, the most recent shooting at a high school in Parkland, which killed 17 people, has reinvigorated the debate over gun law reform.
Typically when a mass shooting occurs, people react by sending out their condolences for about a week and allowing the conversation to taper off.
Something is different this time. We’re still thinking and talking about what happened in Parkland.
Because this time, the conversation is being led by teenagers — not adults.
Influential and powerful figures, like senators and even our president, are being forced to listen.
The Parkland survivors are using their youth to their advantage.
Babyboomers accuse members of Generation Z of being self-absorbed. But this tendency is proving to be their strength, fueling this movement forward. Without the pressures of maintaining a job, protecting a family or preserving a reputation, these students are at a point in their lives where their own self-interest is their only responsibility.
For the purposes of this movement, this attitude is an advantage.
Compared to powerful political figures, Gen-Zs are taking initiatives.
Citizens who have the first-hand experience, whose lives have been threatened by the misuse of guns, and who have lived and survived through an event that so many people in the U.S. cannot relate to, are serving as active pioneers in the movement to protect every person in this country from mass shootings.
These citizens are high school students at the forefront of this national movement. They are taking matters into their own hands and they are not to be underestimated.
It seems the older gentlemen in office need a fresh approach to creating a change. They need these teenage activists, just like these teenage activists need political officials to push their agenda beyond just a movement. They need to change the law.
The Parkland survivors, who fall into Gen-Z, are acting without filters.
Younger generations are stereotyped to ignore hierarchical roles. They are perceived to lack respect for authority. But ignoring the status quo is working not only in their favor but in the favor of the country. They are not afraid to stand up to U.S. senators or President Donald Trump.
These teens have chutzpah.
They are pushing boundaries.
They are using the power of the Internet — a tool that they have grown up with — to drive change.
And they are using the rapid fire of social media — a tool that too many adults have deemed as a waste of time — to actually take action.
Emma Gonzalez, one of the Parkland survivors, created her Twitter account, @Emma4Change, the day before she gave her compelling and heart-wrenching speech about gun control on Feb. 17.
After only a week, she currently has about 100,000 more followers than the NRA on Twitter. She and her peers have created the March For Our Lives through social media. This movement has spread like wildfire. They are optimizing their generational skills to catalyze a movement that has remained idle for far too long.
Citizens of the U.S. Members of the Lehigh community: We have a duty.
We have a duty to those who have been murdered in mass shootings. We have a duty to future generations. We have a duty to these teens putting all that they have to move our nation forward.
We have the right to vote — something that not all of the high school students pushing gun reform forward have yet.
We can’t leave these young adults to fight on their own. We need to support their efforts by voting. We need to help them make a change.