"We need less either/or’s, and more ands." -- Sarah Schuster, Mental Health Editor of The Mighty
Walk up or walk out?
The answer? Same as it is to almost every either/or question: Both.
But walkout should come first.
The walk-up movement appeals to more gentle angels, and that's fine. Its focus on reaching out to young loners, "weird kids" and victims of bullying is wonderful in its call for compassion, empathy and acceptance.
The concern for the faceless ones, the sweet and inspirational sticker notes on lockers, the gratitude toward teachers -- these actions bring to mind the soft and beautiful little lamb, maybe even the Lamb of God.
The one so often used in sacrifices.
Lord, we don't need another sacrifice. There are sacrifices enough . . .
Our little lambs have chosen their own way to solve this problem. They have decided to become the Tigers of Wrath. And we have no business, no right to scold or mock them, or to offer them gentler solutions.
We don't get to say "Be Nice" to victims-turned-activists. We don't get to piss and moan about the radicalization of Our Nation's Youth.
The young activists know about our lethargy, our inertia, our lack of faith, our lack of courage and volition and action. And they know about the squeaky wheel. And they know, at long last, to scream like bloody hell when someone keeps slamming the same door on their fingers, time and time again.
They know to bring about change they must get in Rubio's face, "be rude" by telling him the truth, by mocking his fake concern and his venal practices, by calling him out in public where his voicemail can't be too full to take their calls.
Hey teachers of our youth, here are some suggestions for you:
Model an activism born of integrity and courage.
Have the guts to resist your elders, i.e., those administrators down the hall and those clueless clowns who keep sending acronym-laden initiatives designed to discourage the joy and value of learning.
Have the honesty to tell your students when you're reading off a time-wasting lesson plan foisted on you by politicians.
Next time there's a walkout and you're told not to participate in it or encourage it, find a way to do those things anyway. (I spent 40 years clandestinely avoiding wrong-headed requirements, so I know it's possible.) Don't teach your little lambs to grow up to be sheep, for God's sake!!
Keep in mind, it's going to be these same tactics by this same age group that will eventually turn our current pathetic pedagogy on its ears, rip the whole damn thing apart and start over.
It's probably going to be their courage, not yours, that makes your work more authentic.
Finally, listen to the music: "Don't criticize what you don't understand / Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command / . . . / Don't stand in the doorway / Don't block up the hall."
Something has come alive in the walk-out kids -- a beast has been released. So get out of their way, then support and applaud them, thank them, learn from them, and follow their lead. The Lamb may join you after all.