Teenagers spend hours on their phones, texting and taking selfies. They're selfish, ignorant and plain out lazy.
Generation Z is composed of kids who just eat Tide pods for "likes" and vlog every aspect of their life. They're why the world is going to hell.
That's a common argument many baby boomers place on the younger generations. There's a misconception that teenagers are selfish and lazy, preferring social media over the real world. I find that our elders would rather generalize the rebellious youth into something broad and demeaning than to address that the young people of today eerily mirror the protesters of the '60s.
In the wake of the Vietnam War, America was divided between the old and the young. It felt as though the government was simply interested in its own agenda, rather than listening to its own people. Angry and determined, our parents of today took to the streets to demand an end to the war. Their actions had a dramatic effect on the country's administration, and it's arguable that their protests helped save thousands of soldiers lives by putting pressure on the government.
So it's no surprise to see that the children of those protesters are taking to the street once again. Afraid for their lives and spurred on by the fury of not being protected, the youth are banding together and taking to the internet and to the streets to call for change.
But just as their parents did, they're not just demanding new legislation.
Teenagers are demanding new leaders that listen and are not in the pockets of the NRA. And with most millennials and some of the Gen Z babies becoming adults, it's not just signs that they'll be wielding.
This November, they'll be wielding the power to vote.
As a woman who just turned 18 myself, this march meant something great. It was a turning point in American history.
Like many other teenagers, I've found myself only able to watch from the sidelines as landmark events happened in our nation. At age 12, I remember hearing of Sandy Hook and being unable to do anything. And that inability has only continued and festered within me as Aurora happened, and now Parkland.
As I grew in height and age, so did my frustrations. I called my representatives and was only sent to voicemail. I signed dozens of petitions in an attempt to make a change. But at the end of the day, nothing will happen because those in power choose to do nothing. They choose to instead take money from organizations like the NRA, rather than to do their jobs and listen to their people.
This march proved that those in power have made a mistake. They forgot that my generation grew up with pencils and books, not guns and ammunition.
Attending March for Our Lives was a landmark moment—not just for me but for hundreds of thousands of children and teenagers. Over 800,000 people marched just in Washington, D.C, yet there were hundreds of events across the nation. Merely 4,000 attended Kalamazoo's own march.
Grand Rapids' March for Our Lives protest showcased the power of the youth and the support of our parents. Among the speakers were plenty of students, including a sophomore in high school and a medical student. They spoke of their fear and anger, microphone unable to contain their rage.
As I watched them speak, I saw myself in them.
I saw my future children, my classmates, and my brother.
I saw our future in those who chanted beside me.
Among the numerous speakers were a healthy mix of adults and teenage speakers. Author and actress Kim Harris opened up with a powerful speech, encouraging the attendees to unite. "Time is up!" she yelled, the voices of hundreds backing hers. "We will shout together across America in one voice and we will not stand by silently."
Teacher Eric Pilko from Rockford High School even took the stand, speaking of his love and care for his students. "Your kids are my kids," he said, referring to his students. Passion laced his words as he looked out to the hundreds of protesters. "When I'm out with my family and a current or former student walks up to say hello, my daughters will ask, 'Is that one of yours, Dad?' Yep. That's one of mine."
While I viewed the protest, a group of adults caught my eye. They were holding great signs calling out President Trump and showing support for the young voters who attended. I approached them and interviewed a mom named Myra Muth. She recounted how fearful her daughter was when attending school. "She told me, 'For four years, I had to worry if someone would shoot me.'
"This is everyone's concern."
Many other protesters agreed, stating this was not a political issue. This was an issue of life over death, and one that affected everyone.
Because at the end of the day, guns don't stop shooting because a victim may be a member of a certain group. Bullets don't stop working depending on if the victim is a baby boomer, millennial or a Gen Z'er. Guns kill everyone.
Gun control is not an issue pitting young versus old, Democrat versus Republican, or any group against the other. Gun control is about how we can protect lives that have a right to live, and how we can make those who deserve an education feel safe. It involves compromise and, most importantly, action.
Because my brother deserves to go to school without a fear of being gunned down. I shouldn't have to explain to him that he's safe, knowing fully well that what I say could one day turn out to be a lie. I should have to worry about his grades and his friendships—not if one day my little brother won't come in the living room and ask to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer with me.
Everyone, regardless of age or political affiliation, deserves to learn and live. Everyone deserves a chance to marry, have kids and grow old. And if those in power won't do anything to protect my generation—a generation oftentimes called lazy and "snowflakes"—then we will.
And we will vote them out.
Abby Jones, a senior at Jenison International Academy, plans to attend Grand Rapids Community College to pursue a degree in both education and English. She plans to be a high school English teacher and an author. Abby is an avid lover of dogs and is often seen with her best canine friend, Max. She plans to continue following protests and justice movements in the future.