Beginning with the Occupy Wall Street movement, there has been numerous and frequent large-scale public demonstrations and protest in recent years.
In spite of their frequency, these calls for social change have an ephemeral existence, rather than social movements, they are more accurately moments of dissent or protest that flare up, burn bright and change nothing, then dissipate without trace as quickly as they rose.
It seemed that the rate and short tenure of these movements might have a negative effect on society with each new demonstration depleting the collective energy necessary to create social change.
The occupy Wall Street movement came to nothing, as Wall Street today is still occupied by the same sociopathic sharks and conmen that occupied it in 2008.
Following the women’s’ march in Washington, the same misogynist who took possession of the White House the day before that march is still there.
Even in the face of #me-too movement, where men in positions of power who preyed on women with impunity were supposed to be brought to account, a misogynist clown holding the ultimate position of power is still looking out the window of the Oval Office unscathed.
But maybe with all those shows of solidarity and dissent, instead of the energy dissipating it has incrementally gained momentum and having an accumulative effect.
Regardless, what is evident now is that the most persuasive and the most authentic voice of protest has risen, not from the practiced lobby of special interests, or the stock pile of typical causes, but from the dissent of teenagers who are not so much protesting but, as their movenment so directly states, they are marching for their lives.
“March for Our Lives” was organized by #NeverAgain, which is comprised of students who survived the gun violence that killed 14 of their schoolmates and 3 adult staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
For most of the high school students who participated in the march it was their first time being involved in a demonstration.
These are not committed marching types and many have even questioned the effectiveness of marching and protesting.
But they did march, because what is at stake for these kids is not an abstract ideology, it is something that goes beyond the notion of rights to the matter of personal security and survival.
What was also an encouraging development with the “March for our Lives,” is that kids from affluent high schools and kids from poor inner city neighbourhoods marched with a common cause that bridged the economic and ethnic divide.
Many of these kids from across the social and economic spectrum have witnessed things in their young lives that everyone ought to be spared in an entire lifetime.
I have questioned the effectiveness and sincerity of the Canadian marches done in solidarity with their US counterparts, but on reflection I am willing to accept that their solidarity has value, that for people of their generation the sense of shared purpose and mutual concern extends beyond boarders.
On both sides of the border, young people have inherited a dysfunctional society run on lies and greed. As these kids have not yet become acclimatized to those absurdities or indifferent to those lies, it might be prudent for all of us to listen to what they have to say.