With adults failing, teens must step up to save their future

Franzi Wild, Guest Columnist

At this point it’s hard not to be really freaked out. The suspension of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty isn’t the final straw, but it comes close. When you put on top of that climate change, school shootings and a lack of access to health care, you’ve surely reached that proverbial last straw.

The apocalypse seems like something out of TV show or movie, but when you consider that, according to the United Nations, we have only 12 years until the effects of climate change are irreversible, it suddenly seems like we’re on the precipice of a self-made apocalypse.

Just take a moment, read that last sentence again, and realize how short 12 years is. Even the oldest among us (and by us, I mean students, children and young people) will barely be 30 in 12 years. By the time we’re barely old enough to make most of these decisions, it will be too late. Most of the grown-ups in board, committee and hearing rooms aren’t doing anything. In fact, many of them are still debating whether global warming is even real, and then they wonder why I have nightmares the earth is melting. It’s hard to find someone to rely on when it seems the ground is literally disappearing below us.

I’ve always been told it’s important to have a “grown-up in your life you can rely on,” but right now, it seems like you’ve all failed us. You’ve failed us by choosing not to make our future a priority. I don’t want to be fighting inherited wars — both the literal kind and kind for basic human rights — when I’m “grown up.” Change needs to happen, or be prepared to be voted out of office the moment we’re enfranchised.

A couple of nights ago, I was talking with my mom about gun control, and she mentioned not having lockdown drills but duck-and-cover drills. It’s scary to think that when she was my age, rather than being afraid of school shootings, she was afraid of a nuclear bomb dropping on her hometown of Ramsey, New Jersey. It’s even scarier to think that now I have to be afraid of both.

When my dad was 16, he protested the presence of U.S. nuclear missiles in Germany. Now that I’m 16, I’ve already attended two Women’s Marches, the March for Our Lives and worked for a congressional campaign to try to change something, and I’m not nearly as politically active as a lot of my friends.

We called it the March for Our Lives because we acutely understand the real and imminent danger posed by the apathy of the grown-ups in power. We understand that we’re the only ones who really seem to care.

Now it’s time to talk with those of you who aren’t yet grown-ups. Get sad, get hopeless, and then get really really angry. Channel all of that into action. We’re grown up enough to do this. If they’re not going to listen, we’ll make them.

I’ve seen you channel your frustration about recent happenings at this school into action; apply that to the real world. I’ve seen you convince your parents to let you buy that and go there; apply that to the real world. I’ve seen you shoulder eight-plus hours of school, four-plus hours of extracurriculars and another four of homework; apply that to the real world.