What I Realized After Dropping My Teenager Off at a Protest March
I dropped her off at the Arizona State Capitol and we switched seats with me getting back into the driver’s seat. She’s not the most affectionate kid. She really doesn’t like being touched but she loves me. Today, I hugged her anyway. She hugged me back, tight.
It’s not the first time she’s gone to a protest. My daughter has marched for immigration reform and today she’s participating in the Women’s March.
She is manning a booth with a leadership organization she participates in. I gave her some money to get herself some lunch from food trucks in the area. I told her that I was remarkably proud of her. I meant it.
I’m not big on marches and protests. I choose to focus my political activity working on campaigns and lobbying support for or against bills that are beneficial or detrimental to what I believe in. It’s activism from behind a petition table or from my living room couch.
My 15-year-old daughter, however, firmly believes in standing in solidarity with people who want the same things for this world that she does.
Though she may be young, she’s not only self-aware but incredibly aware of the world around her. She sees problems people of all walks of life face and instead of ignoring them or getting mired down, she wants to fix them.
She’s passionate and empathetic. She’s a hard worker and she understands her privilege. Instead of being angry at other people for wanting what she has, she wants everyone else to have it too.
When I look at her generation and the millennials that come before her, I don’t have a single worry about whose hands we’re leaving this world in. I feel good. I feel hopeful.
Frankly, I get tired of millennials and Gen Z getting pigeon-holed into being selfish, lazy, and entitled. Start a conversation with people about student loan debt or free college education and you see the condemnation of young people happen fast.
Yesterday, I sat at a table for a couple of hours with a young lady who works as a community organizer for a Senate campaign with which I’m volunteering. I met three of her coworkers, as well. These are all people under the age of 25.
Many of them are recent transplants to Arizona, having been displaced after working on Kamala Harris’s campaign. They are tenacious, for sure. They were perfectly willing to move to a state they’ve never been to in order to help bring the change they feel is necessary. They’re passionate. They have fire.
This is a far cry from the picture that people love to paint of millennials and Gen Z. Just a bunch of whiny snowflakes who want everything handed to them. Think again.
These campaign workers don’t want things handed to them and neither does my daughter. They understand hard work is necessary and they’ll do it. They’re willing to talk to people, fight to be heard, raise awareness and demand answers.
These aren’t a bunch of kids with no work ethic. The majority of the people I find working on these campaigns are young. They’re the boots on the ground willing to work for an entry-level wage because of their commitment to public process, public policy, and improving our country.
So no, “kids these days” aren’t ruining our country. They’re fixing what we broke. Our refusal to acknowledge a need for change makes their lives harder. Shouldn’t we want things to be better and easier for the next generation?
If you’re complaining about the negative impact that younger generations are making on our country, you’re not looking hard enough. What they’re doing is good. It matters. Look harder.