Students marching because they are upset about America’s gun policies have been belittled and even attacked, often with the statement “Marching won’t make any difference; staying in school will.” Indeed, they might not make a difference – yet.
That is what was said at the beginnings and middles of all the major social-change movements in our nation’s history – abolition of slavery, women’s rights, the right to organize in the workplace, civil rights, the Vietnam War, gay rights. All these movements took years to have effect, but then, because of the persistence and vigor of the protagonists, the effect was enormous, resulting in long-overdue profound shifts in the nation’s attitudes toward these issues.
These students are looking at this issue with fresh eyes, wondering why adults all around them have been unable to right an obvious wrong. Certainly, the passions of youth, still picking through their place in a world that has existed for millenia before them, will mellow with time. But they have lit a light that others will follow, and patience and persistence may result in another shift in the nation’s attitude toward this issue. Following Martin Luther King, who advocated patience and persistence with “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”