I got in a royal war with an elderly couple who were my neighbors years ago. They decided to chop all the trees down between our backyards. I know. They were their trees, but they were healthy. They were a bird habitat that we loved, and sound buffer were soon to die.
I begged them. Other neighbors plead for the trees. The chippers came.
I called a local nursery and ordered new trees, the biggest they had, to be planted on our side of the yard.
The lady laughed at me.
"Oh, honey," she said, "We'll be long dead before those trees grow up. You're young enough to think you make a difference."
She's dead. He's dead. They aren't my trees anymore.
If there's a stench of age, it is the audacity to leave the world a worse place than you came in to it, and mock the young for caring. She was the first person I remember telling me that I was too young to matter. I was 33. She mocked me for a change she was making, knowing full well she was on the way out. For this I count myself lucky beyond measure. Far luckier than so many of the young people blazing their way in America today.
Adults, famous and influential, have come out to tell our youth that they are too young to know anything about their own lives. Seriously. What is wrong with them? Were they born old and grouchy and full of nasty?
This past week a federal appeals court rejected the Trump administration's attempt to crush a climate change lawsuit. Oh, to be fair, the suit was brought in 2015 by 21 young Americans (between the ages of 9 and 19). The Obama administration tried to shut it down too. They failed. Trump failed. These kids are suing the federal government for failing to do anything about climate change.
For all the bloviating for decades in Congress about "our children's futures," they haven't passed the simplest measures to leave a better planet for the next generations. These kids know that. Oil and gas companies spent more than $125 million on lobbyists last year. While Congress yammers on about the opioid epidemic in killing Americans, they continue to be lobbied to the tune of $278 million last year by the pharmaceutical companies. (They spend more than any other industry to make sure their profits are protected more than patients. Insurance companies came in second with $160 million worth of your premiums used to lobby lawmakers with great health insurance.)
You think kids don't know about drugs? They know. They know when they have to set their own alarms to catch the bus because their parents are high. Why they are staying with grandparents. They know and we aren't doing enough to protect them.
While arguing against a gun control bill in Florida this week, state Rep. Elizabeth Porter said, "Do we allow the children to tell us that we should pass a law that says no homework?" The bill raises the age to buy arms to 21, has a three day waiting period and no bump stocks. It passed, the governor signed it and the NRA is suing to stop it. At the same time high schools are having officers fire blanks inside their school to simulate and active shooter so teachers and students can get used to what active gunfire sounds like. The debate continues over video games and if we should be arming teachers. It's stupid. It's an intentional waste of time.
These children, kids, young adults know what is happening in their lives. It has been nearly 20 years since the Columbine shooting. That they have the courage to fight for their futures should be admired and supported by everyone who was ever a child. For anyone who tells them they don't get to have a voice — well, shut theirs down. Adultery isn't the sin where kids try to act like adults. (You can find that in other front page stories this week.)
There are a few generations that should have been on the front line with torches and pitchforks instead of MySpace and slacktivism. People talk about how selfish teenagers are. Look at their parents and grandparents who keep voting in officials who will literally sell the future of their children to keep power in office.
We owe them an apology. We owe them action.
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