Children Are People, Not Props

Robert Roe
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Before we begin, I will, as I occasionally do, add the disclaimer that my opinions are my own. You are not obligated to agree with my views. As a proponent of civil discourse, I still believe in the antiquated notion that citizens are free to think what they wish and can even be amicable one toward another while holding opposing philosophies. If you disagree, you are cordially invited to duke it out with your conscience.

The topic of today’s screed: kids. It hasn’t been that long ago that adults were imploring our youth to not eat Tide Pods. Then in the wake of the Parkland shootings, our kids were thrust into the national spotlight, being urged to formulate our nation’s gun policy. Fast forward to today, when the same generation is being discouraged from snorting condoms up their nose and pulling them out of their mouths.

So, to whom do we as a nation hitch our metaphorical star – the impulsive, sometimes idiotic young people who try crazy things just because, or the intelligent and activist youth brigade who work tirelessly to make our world a better place in which to live? The choice is easy, because these people are one and the same.

Our less seasoned citizens are vapid, deep, mercurial, reactionary, caring, activist, indifferent, generous, selfish, cowardly, heroic, disaffected, and wise beyond their years. Just like the adults they will eventually grow into. And I mean that in the kindest way possible because I, too, was once a youngster (believe it or not).

In a few years, these people will be required to join the work force, pay taxes, and make the decisions we adults do every day. But they shouldn’t have to yet.

That is where we come in. In the wake of Parkland, I have found it grotesque to watch adults use youth as philosophical human shields to ram gun control down our country’s collective throat. A group who has undergone such a tragedy needs help to work through their emotions, not a television time slot to propel a political agenda while adults cower in the shadows, calculating that only Very Evil People would argue with children who have survived a mass shooting. Public perception is a powerful thing.

Yet time and time again, adults used the victims as proxies to propel their gun control agenda, leaving them free to take pot shots at the Second Amendment. Gun rights is a discussion worth constantly revisiting – just not while using the children who were injured by the atrocity as props.

These kids have been let down by a nation whose responsibility it was to protect them. From the Sheriff’s Deputy who bravely waited outside the danger zone until the coast was clear to the media, who have tattooed Chicago Mayor Rahm Immanuel’s famous “never let a crisis go to waste” mantra backwards on their foreheads so they can see it in the mirror every morning, our next generation of leaders is learning the wrong lessons – and learning them the hard way.

Our young people deserve better. Like being forced to eat our vegetables as a kid, it is now our job as adults to suck it up, put on our Big People Pants, and help the younger generation develop into productive members of our society. Guide, not indoctrinate.

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Robert Roe