As I’ve been following the young activists today who are taking a leadership role in a fight my generation seemed to have given up on, it brought me back to another time when young people felt both helpless and passionate about a cause. In our day, it was the anti-war movement. What is tragically similar to what those brave, outspoken kids from Parkland and elsewhere are doing, and what kids my age did in 1968 and beyond, is that they also have real skin in the game, which is a tremendous motivating factor. The boys I knew during the Vietnam era had the draft looming over them. They knew they could be drafted and sent to fight an enemy far away in a country we didn’t know much about. Students of draft age took to the streets in protest, feeling helpless no more.
The kids today have always known about school shooters and young men (always young men) with guns coming to do them harm. Their skin in the game today is literal. There is no enemy far away in a country they don’t know much about. The enemy is in your English class, or maybe at the lab table next to you or across from your PE locker. It’s real. And for years, we, the adults, for the most part have felt helpless to make any changes to the law as it pertains to gun ownership. For the most part, we have felt helpless, though our hearts break over the senseless deaths of children in a place that should be a safe haven.
I applaud the actions of the teenagers across this country. I’ll stand in solidarity with them as they take the lead.
We’ve been waist deep in the big muddy for far too long.
Then, as now, “the Big Fool says to push on.” It’s up to us to make sure we don’t let the Big Fool lead us further into the deep muddy. Enough.
Tom Morello and Taj Mahal pay tribute to Pete Seeger in this rendition of Waist Deep in the Big Muddy