Florida teens: We are rooting for you!

I admit that I was totally wrong and biased in assuming that today’s kids, whether they are millennials or the upcoming members of Generation Z, show no aspirations to become responsible adults. After all, I assumed, this is the generation that is obsessed with nothing significant other than the latest trends in fashion, selfies, endless chit-chats on social media and video games. 

Well, I do admit my guilt and confess that as one of the so-called grownups, I did frequently mock these teenagers by pointing to their erratic and unpredictable behavior. “These kids are lazy, cynical and selfish,” I heard myself echoing other adults. “They care more about a ridiculously silly movie on YouTube than showing any concern about the challenges our country is facing.”

The common view of today’s teenager is that since they live an alternate life in cyberspace made of impulse-triggered clicks, links and conversations with total strangers, they will be ill-equipped to relate or confront reality in a convincing manner.

But I have to confess that my prejudice and stereotypical views came to screeching halt when I watched these same teenagers take the podium and speak and take part in intelligent discourse against the current gun laws in this country. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., finally shattered my cartoonish image of what a teenager represents. After the recent mass shooting, the students stood up and rebelled with organized and respectable composure. 

They categorically rejected and stated that they are unwilling to accept a passive reaction of “thoughts and prayers” from politicians who have been offering that mantra for many years without alternative solution. This time, they claimed, they want to see action and the current status quo is unacceptable by them.

Their eyes facing the camera and the world, they expressed their exasperation and impatience with eloquence, intelligence, and sensibility. What was striking and showed incredible maturity on their part was the fact that they did not claim any temporary solutions. They affirmed their willingness to fight and never quit until they find the right answers. 

How these young kids stood firm and expressed their views at the town hall gatherings and protests, up against politicians, has been simply thrilling to witness. These kids, who just a few weeks ago might have been discussing the details of the upcoming prom, now are transformed into mature adults, confronting the experts by articulating their concerns and demands. Watching them on TV as they questioned and exposed the hypocrisy of politicians with fortitude and passion was simply astounding.

I do hope that this “revolution,” as the kids called it, will not suddenly evaporate into the negative forces that dominate the current political climate. There is no question this will be an agonizing uphill climb. I hope they will not be disheartened when no immediate changes take place and that the spirit of these high school students will not be diminished by the countless promises and sugar-coated lip service politicians will offer to attract future voters.

But most importantly, I feel that the biggest challenge these kids will face is how to negate the so-called gun culture, a culture of absurd fascination toward guns and weapons. There are multitudes of people in our country who view these killing machines as if they were ceremonial objects that provide their owners some spiritual exultation. That is why each time there is even a casual conversation about the possibility of outlawing these guns, their sales immediately skyrocket and buyers crowd to store.

But, judging from the way these students presented themselves during and after the recent shootings, I have come to believe that they are much more than their sometimes silly comments on social media. And that behind their wacky and silly selfies, there is a tough and solid persona that no one would want to mess with.

With that spirit, I join others wishing these young boy and girls a brilliant success.

Go kids… Win the battle we couldn’t win!


Varoujan Froundjian is a graphic designer, Photoshop artist, writer, cartoonist, information technology and wine expert who also drives a limousine for local livery. He can be reached at varoujanfroundjian@gmail.com.