When it comes to the future youth voices matter the most

On March 4, 2018

Despite being labeled as "too young," students rally on in the fight for their rights. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Alexander Hamilton was already on George Washington’s cabinet by the age of 20. Mark Zuckerberg was 20 years old when he launched Facebook. Nathan Hale graduated from Yale at the age of 18, and by 21, he was put on a secret mission ordered by George Washington. If someone told these people “no” on account of their age, our history would look very different than it does.

Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) shooting, is 18 years old and leading the fight for gun reform alongside Alex Wind, a 17-year-old MSD junior and many other high school students.

These students are being belittled because of their age. Gonzalez argues for a ban on assault weapons, and her opponents argue back that she’s 18 years old. The people that are saying we’re too young simply don’t like what we have to say and use age as a distraction from our argument.

To this, I quote Gonzalez and call BS. In the beginning of her speech that she gave only a few days after the shooting, she announced that she brought her notes from her AP Government class in order to stay accurate. These “kids” are not only voicing their thoughts and opinions on the issue, but they are backing up what they say with strict facts.

I could understand why it might take a minute for the older generations to gain trust in the younger ones, but when we’re the ones speaking up about it, they don’t have much of a choice.

We are not “too young.” Since voicing my thoughts and opinions, I have gotten too many comments saying I don’t know what I’m talking about because of my age. I call BS. I am a 20-year-old college student. I do extensive research before I state my opinions. What I “lack” in life experience, I make up in passion and determination to implement change. There is no age restriction on research and education. If someone is willing to put in the work to do something that they believe in, they shouldn’t be taken any less seriously because of their age. They shouldn’t be taken any less seriously because of any factor they have no power to change.

In the past, when shootings have occurred, people would get mad and mourn. That’s where the fight would end. These students are stepping up for everyone else in America to make sure that something like Feb. 14 never happens again.

We should not be looked at any different because of our age. We are educated, determined and powerful. We will be the change.

When addressing the older generations, I am not talking in absolutes. There are many people from these generations who have stepped up to support and help us win this fight. To these people, I say thank you. Thank you for believing in us and our fight. Thank you for not being the one to turn the other cheek after hearing our age. Thank you for taking us seriously. Thank you for helping us be the change.

Our future is in our hands. We can no longer sit back and wait for things to happen. We can no longer just be “kids.” The fight has been started, and it’s up to the our generation to keep it going until we see the change we - and an overwhelming majority of Americans - want. In a poll done by NPR regarding gun reform, three-quarters of those questioned said gun laws should be stricter than they are today.

We can’t do it alone. With the support of our elders the change can happen faster. Together, our fight to prevent another shooting from happening will go down in history.

Zoe Zbar is a sophomore majoring in marketing.

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