These March for Our Lives kids impress me. The elders, not so much.

Emma Gonzalez march for our lives moment of silence

The March for Our Lives was a powerful display of young people spearheading a major event that called dramatic attention to the gun violence that has killed so many schoolchildren.

And so the gun rights extremists had but one course of action: discredit, ridicule and lie about the young activists with impunity.

That’s their whole shtick these days. They can’t win a fair argument, so they spread fake news via Fox and the usual gang of lowlifers at the NRA, Breitbart, InfoWars, WND, Daily Wire, and so on.

They must feel so wise and mature, making up crap about 18-year-olds who frighten them. Spreading far and wide an image doctored to show Emma Gonzalez tearing up the constitution must make them feel so proud, so righteous.

Her silence and solitary tear spoke louder than any of their fake eloquence. She spoke the truth, while they embraced lies. Justice and righteousness are on her side, not theirs.

Anyone who spread that crap via social media is likewise guilty of lies and vicious intent.

There’s also a milder version of calumny percolating in the swamps of the far right: that young people like Emma Gonzalez have no expertise about guns and should not be publicly leading campaigns for gun restrictions.

Have you ever been shot at? I didn’t think so. She’s got more expertise and credibility than you’ll ever have.

There’s a related theme here, which I constantly hear and see: that “kids today” are lazy, selfish, ignorant and have no respect for their elders.

Look in the mirror and maybe you’ll see why they might find respecting you to be one of life’s challenges.

Emma Gonzalez will start college in the fall. I have taught students her age for decades. The stereotypes about the young that I keep hearing from grumpy old people are ridiculous. This young generation shows just as much promise as any other. You just don’t like it because when they reach the numbers to put their ideas about the common good into action, you’re not going to be happy.

Well, guess what. They’re not too happy with how you’ve run things, either. And I hope they take the advice of one great elder, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stephens: repeal the Second Amendment.

The elders are running this nation into the dustbin of history. I have hope that the young generations coming up will use their decades in power wisely. Of course, their elders have set a pretty low bar to exceed.

About the author

David Backes

I have always been drawn to where the wild things are: the natural world around me, and the wilderness within. As a writer, speaker, and university professor, I have for decades focused on this combination of nature and the human spirit. In recent years, my spiritual journey has added another lens: social, environmental and intergenerational justice. Put it all together and you’ve got The Earth Keeper, a blog of integral ecology and the prophetic imagination. The Earth Keeper may at times make you feel hopeful or inspired; it may make you feel uncomfortable or defensive or even angry. I hope it often will be challenging, and always interesting.

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