Dear student activists,
Tomorrow the children will lead the grown-ups.
As I drove in the dark dawn hours this morning, I was reminded of all our children have to offer – and how much of that we often dismiss or overlook.
I listened to NPR on the radio. They were featuring tomorrow’s March for Our Lives.
In this age of protecting our children with rubber-chipped playgrounds and five-point seat buckles, we forget that children are not just kids who need to be ever-shielded. They are not always wrapped up in themselves, entitled and oblivious. They are watchful. They are pure of heart. They are brave. And they are strong.
On February 21, I walked my usual route in front of the White House on the way to a client meeting. There was a huge group of people – and I realized they were surrounding dozens of children. These were kids who don’t trust the grown-ups to do their jobs, which should be to protect these very children, protesting outside the White House. I got goosebumps.
On my ride this morning, I listened to this breathtaking interview on Morning Edition. NPR’s Noel King spoke with Cameron Kasky, who survived the Florida school shooting, about organizing tomorrow’s march. He had become known for giving Marco Rubio a hard time and asking him questions the politicians are scared to pussyfoot around.
Cameron was eloquent, passionate, and on-point. When the reporter asked him about others, mostly Republicans, starting to attack him and his peers by accusing them of being paid activists, he said, “When people can’t attack your argument, they start attacking you personally…That’s when you know you won.”
He said what I wish our grown-up leaders would have the guts to live out: “This only works because it’s us…The only reason this has worked and will continue to work is because we don’t let ourselves get bastardized by others.”
Cameron – and all of the kids he is working with – are shining the spotlight out onto all the other children and parents who are railing for gun control and protecting our innocent – but are overpowered and overshadowed. These shadows are cast by the NRA and other special interests who steer politicians’ morals away from the simple right, the simple human thing to do.
And then finally, StoryCorps came on. And as always, it made me weep. In today’s program, a mother talked with her 10 year-old son about the active shooter drills. He told her step-by-step what the class does during these drills. He then told his mom that he would put himself in front of the other kids if he had to – because, “It’s kind of like, there’s one person that can come home to the family, or there can be 22 people that come home to the family.” She didn’t know what to say to him – because he made it clear that he wouldn’t let his mother sway him.
You – you children. You, the ones who have stood up, who won’t get sidetracked, who are using your experiences to change the world – thank you.
Thank you for giving us more hope than we’ve had in a long, long time. Thank you for putting the simple right thing to do out front. Thank you for being media savvy, for taking risks, for supporting each other in a scary time. Thank you for letting your youthful openness lead the way.
I hope to God that when you are parents, you won’t need to imagine your children huddling behind desks. If you keep going the way you are, I am sure you won’t.
I – and so many of us grown-ups – are awed by you. Thank you for being the people you are. Thank you for setting examples for our children. And most of all – Thank you for leading us.
Kate Viggiano Janich, Mom. Activist. Entrepreneur.