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A Message from a Boomer to Today's Gen Z

Jeff Hall

Posted on March 15, 2018 14:12

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Yesterday students from local schools staged a walkout to protest the gun violence. Something made me want -- maybe even need -- to be there.

Back in the late sixties, as a high schooler, I marched in a few anti-Vietnam War protest marches. 

If anything, today, I feel guilty I didn't do more of this.  I was always too busy with school, afraid of getting arrested, soccer practice, hanging out with girlfriends or whatever else got in the way. 

Students from Brentwood School in West Los Angeles.

Many of my friends at the time were far more hard core. One I know threw rocks through windows and maybe more.  These were revolutionary times, with people talking about Che Guevara, Mao, guns -- the whole bit. 

It was a thrilling time to be alive -- but scary, too. The Kennedys were killed; same with Martin Luther King; friends died in Vietnam; students were shot in Santa Barbara and at Kent State.

But somehow all this protest and violence co-existed with the "Dawning of the Age of Aquarius."

The Beatles sang about love, sex became more liberalized, communes sprang up, we smoked pot and we were there at the beginning of the women's movement. 

We were hippies looking for a new way -- a contrast to the violence of our time. 

Alexa Kretchmer of Archer School for Girls leads moments of silence for the 17 who died.

I sometimes wonder if our protests made a difference.  I think they did. 

I'm hopeful that today's kids, protesting all the gun violence, will stay the course.  We had lots of distractions back in the sixties; today's students seem more determined and focused. 

I don't think this movement will come and go with a few marches. 

These kids want to join the system and work from within.  They are talking about voting, running for office, using their collective power to change the policies of businesses that seem too cozy with the NRA.

The kids who spoke on TV right after Parkland were so amazingly passionate and articulate.  They aren't afraid to speak truth to power.  I think maybe this next generation will be far more effective than ours was.  

I don't know if or how these kids might get bought off, but in our generation, while many of us went about wanting to make a difference, plenty of others quietly marched off to Wall Street and became the one-percenters -- or politicians on the take. 

But it will be hard, even for a one-percenter or an officeholder beholden to special interests, to ignore the passion of today's kids.  With social media, they are quick to resort to public shaming. 

It's not hard to imagine that the gun crowd will come to be viewed as smokers are today.  Back in the sixties all my friends and I smoked cigarettes.  I know very few who do today. 

Maybe one day our society will come to believe guns aren't so cool after all. 

Hang in there, Gen Z, you've got a long way to go.

We boomers -- many of us, anyway -- wish you well. 

Finish what we started.

Students take to the streets.

 

 

 

 

Jeff Hall

Posted on March 15, 2018 14:12

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Students protest after Parkland school shooting Students around the country walked out of their schools “by the hundreds...

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