It’s a proven, scientific fact: Teenagers are fickle.
OK, not really, but it seems so, doesn’t it?
Each of us growing up had those moments in our youth when we thought a certain celebrity, song or fashion fad was the coolest thing in the world, only to look back now in amusement and embarrassment. Today, social media companies endlessly assess teenagers, who are always a step ahead, constantly turning the “next big thing” into roadkill.
Babies who grew up teething on their parents’ smartphones are now Teenage Online Ninjas, using apps no one over 25 has heard of, and by the time adults catch on, they’ve long moved on.
So, it’s not entirely surprising some adults are dismissing protests over gun violence as just another kid-mania moment that soon will run its course. After all, how can the same creatures who can’t remember to close the refrigerator door or rinse off a dish, possess the capacity to create and sustain such a profound movement?
But what if they can? What if they do?
What if it’s teenagers who pull off what no one else has been able — or courageous enough — to accomplish?
What if America as we know it is undergoing historic change right before our eyes?
The problem is our own. Adults are taken aback because we have this lazy assumption all teenagers are moody, monosyllabic, self-obsessed Tide Pod connoisseurs who couldn’t identify their congressperson in a police lineup.
Well, neither can a lot of adults.
A radical mission
As a result, our national discourse is strewn with the scorched and charred Twitter feeds of defensive and cranky grownups who try to joust with adolescents whose first language is “text.”
Maybe we failed to see this moment coming because the people who change the world are never the ones we expect.
Easter reminds us that a ragtag group of men and women who had no power, who flouted religious tradition and convention through their very existence, turned the world upside down by having the audacity to believe God might drape himself in flesh and dwell among us.
It’s never the people you think. According to the gospels, Jesus’ incarnation didn’t manifest through royalty or a priestly family, but through a teenage girl and a stepfather who couldn’t even afford a decent room for his birth.
When they weren’t bickering among themselves and jockeying for position, Jesus’ disciples embraced and shared a radical mission: to follow the one who, as a precocious 12-year-old, declared his own divinity while out-teaching Jewish scholars — and giving his parents fits in the process.
Because they went from hiding and denying they ever knew him, to embracing imprisonment and a martyr’s death, those same flawed, ordinary men changed the world.
Five smooth stones
Meanwhile, if you’re an American teenager who has seen blood gushing from a classmate’s gaping gunshot wound, there’s nothing left to fear from those who tell you to be patient, that you don’t understand how change is made.
Adults who claim a God-given right to own assault weapons, who are skeptical that teenagers are smart enough or articulate enough to effect change, will henceforth have to ignore the story of David, a skinny teenager, and the Philistine Goliath, whom no one thought could be defeated.
Offended by Goliath’s bullying and blasphemy and probably not knowing enough to be scared, David ignored the “experts” who declared that nothing could be done.
Goliath went down like a sack of wheat, and in a way that no one saw coming.
According to an apocryphal legend, it’s said that David had five smooth stones because Goliath had four sons.
Only a kid could have that kind of swagger.
If you don’t see an analogy to what’s happening right now, it might not be a bad idea to glance down at your name tag, just to make sure it doesn’t say “Hello. I’m Goliath.”
Reach Charita M. Goshay at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.