Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When Did We Stop Getting Riled?

When I was sixteen years old, our school board decided to fire our principal, Mr. Fedor. As students, we didn’t know the details of the firing, but we knew two things:

Mr. Fedor was one of the coolest dudes around. He knew everyone’s names and actually took interest in the students’ lives (not in a creepy way, but in a dad-like way).

Mr. Fedor did not want to leave our school. He was being forced out by a politically motivated school board.

So, the students took action. We organized a campaign to save his job. We made signs and called local newspapers to cover the story. Lastly, we wrote speeches to deliver at the school board meeting that would determine his fate. There were so many of us in attendance at that board meeting that the overflow of students had to sit in the cafeteria, unable to fit into the meeting venue.

Looking back at this now, knowing life as an adult and vaguely remembering myself as a teenager, this seems like a very small moment in the history of my life. But back then, this protest was everything. We were all so passionate about our efforts.  It wasn’t just about winning. It was about our desire to be heard. It was a hope that the adults wouldn’t just think we were “dumb teens” who didn’t know what was best for them.

We lost.

Passion was really all we had to support our case, and it wasn’t enough that time. But the outpouring of love and support and community that we created by uniting was a palpable gift that we were able to take away with us that night. Parents, teachers, and even some board members who voted with us, all marveled at our maturity. Who would have thought that a bunch of high school students, ranging from fourteen to eighteen years old, could actually have something valid and important to contribute?

And now here I am, an adult with children and responsibilities. That fire that I had in high school is long gone, and to be honest, I’ve met very few adults who have been able to hang on to it. Don’t get me wrong, we still may be passionate about our children or a football team or a new movie that looks pretty good. But that teenage passion-the kind of passion you have when your view of the world is not all that complicated, when it’s easier to see what’s right and wrong because you don’t have to weigh the complexities of politics to find your moral compass, the kind of passion that gives you butterflies in your stomach and gets you so excited that you can’t sit down and process your thoughts because they are coming at you too fast-that is the passion that no longer visits us as adults.

Adults nowadays post memes about how tired they are or about how much wine they need to get through the day. Adults post these long diatribes on social media about how they feel about current events, all the while not having enough energy or passion to actually do anything that matters to fix what they are complaining about. Adults have become too busy with their lives to be passionate about truly making the changes they want to see.

While there will always be the teens who enjoy eating tide pods for fun, what I am witnessing at home with my very vocal, animal rights protesting, thirteen year old daughter, as well as what I am witnessing on my local Florida news channel these days, is that our teens have found the passion that we abandoned years ago. And as we are rapidly seeing, their passion is all that is needed to make a difference. Their passion is taking the world by storm. I hope you all have an umbrella.

*This piece was published on BLUNTmoms on March 7, 2018.