As I write thousands of high school students around our nation are walking out of their classrooms to attempt communicating their concern to state and federal leaders about gun violence in schools. Now I know that I have different readers who have different reactions to my first sentence. Some may love this idea and this “enough is enough” expression from the students. Others may have a strong negative reaction, feeling as if these students are being goaded by a teacher’s union conglomerate who want to take away 2nd Amendment rights. Who knows, there is likely a smattering of truth in both of these reactions.
I’m just writing to say that I love my sons and I’m proud of them. As they got ready to go to school we talked about what they intended to do with this national protest. They explored all of the right questions without me asking. They wondered: Will this walk-out really accomplish anything? Who is watching? Does a walk-out in Santa Cruz matter and would it just be better to stay in class? Is this walk-out just a good excuse to ditch class? These are the kinds of questions we believers need to be helping our children ask about the world Jesus has called them to live within. We are, whether we like it or not, in this world – and yet not of this world. How are my sons, and your children, to stand for what they believe reflects God’s kingdom values?
This is especially poignant when you understand the world our kids have inherited from us as described by Jean M. Twenge PhD in her book iGen: Why today’s super connected kids are less rebellious, more tolerant, less happy — and completely unprepared for adulthood — and what that means for the rest of us. Dr. Twenge writes:
iGen is distinct from every previous generation in how its members spend their time, how they behave, and their attitudes toward religion, sexuality, and politics. They socialize in completely new ways, reject once sacred social taboos, and want different things from their lives and careers. They are obsessed with safety and fearful of their economic futures, and they have no patience for inequality based on gender, race, or sexual orientation. They are a the forefront of the worst mental health crisis ind decades, with rates of teen depression and suicide skyrocketing since 2011 . . . the iGen idea: the world is an inherently dangerous place because every social interaction carries the risk of being hurt. You never know what someone is going to say, and there’s no way to protect yourself from it. – Jean M. Twenge