I am so incredibly impressed with the Parkland, Florida students’ response to last week’s horrific gun violence at their school.
Check that. It is not the response that is incredibly impressive; it is the students. They are immensely impressive. Their responses to the murders around them are a manifestation — a demonstration — of the impressiveness of their character.
Here’s hoping and praying those students continue to speak, march, organize, and vote until all our schools are safe. Until all assault rifles are banned. Until all politicians who put guns ahead of students — ahead of people — lose their seats. Because hopes and prayers are necessary, but they are also insufficient. Action is needed too.
At the church I serve, our Youth Ministry leaders and I will of course do everything we can to encourage and support the ways our students choose to engage in these actions. Such as the March for Our Lives on March 24th. Or the National School Walkout on March 14th and April 20th.
As our General Board of Church & Society (the advocacy arm of The United Methodist Church) reminds us:
The United Methodist Church urges “congregations to advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence.”
However, I don’t want to just lift up our students’ possible future actions. I want to celebrate who our students are right now, today. Recently we asked them to anonymously write down something they are good at. (We then used their responses as part of a game wherein each person had to either act out or draw that written response for the rest of the group to guess. Because of course we did.)
I’m sharing their answers with you because I think it provides yet another glimpse into our students lives. Our congregation claims to highly value our children, and we actively strive to bring that value to life. Knowing our students helps us do that.
More generally, it seems to me that hearing directly from some students could curb the impulse some have to automatically assume middle school and high school students are vapid, phone-obsessed, and dismissible. I beg to differ. Vociferously.
What are you good at?
Watching TV 🙂
Talking to friends
Math [Note: x2]
Playing my flute
Eating food and playing piano [Note: probably not at the same time]
Doing Yoda impressions
Speaking for a group
Finally, let me celebrate student insight. At this week’s youth group gathering, engaging with the Lenten Study book, Embracing the Uncertain, our students offered this understanding of the material:
Faith is to doubt as bravery is to fear.
Yep, they named their takeaway in the form of a standardized ELA comparisons test.
Translated: Bravery isn’t the absence of fear; bravery is action in the midst of fear, in spite of the fear. Similarly, faith isn’t the absence of doubt; faith is action in the midst of doubt, in spite of all the doubts we feel.
Hey, our kids are pretty great…wouldn’t you say?