A teen-age boy stood in the school courtyard, talking to a brick wall. Watching from inside, I could not hear, but he gestured and obviously made a strong point to … nobody.
Approximately 25 feet past him stood a teen girl, doing the same thing to another section of wall.
In that image, I found tremendous hope for the world.
Leah and I were on Day 4 of a tour around central and mostly southern Texas that will take us to six high school academic meets over a span of eight days. We’re judging teenagers in writing and mostly speaking events in various district contests, where students vie for a chance to compete at the regional and maybe state levels.
I knew what the students were doing, talking to the wall. It was in the early afternoon in Geronimo, Texas. Preliminary competitions had been completed, so they were rehearsing their presentations for finals that afternoon. In fact, the girl was one I had awarded first place in a prose interpretation prelim that morning.
We’ve judged hundreds of high school contestants over the years. In debates, they will argue both sides of an issue. In journalism, they will write about the assigned topic.
But in speaking events, they’re often able to say their minds through their selection of poetry or prose to share with the audience.
They talk about anything. Rape, single parenting, suicide, war, hunger, drug abuse, international relations, sexual identity, mental challenges, religion. Anything.
The speak passionately and are usually well-informed. They want justice, for themselves but mostly for others. They want a planet to share with their kids.
As I watched the two … now three … students talking to bricks in the courtyard, my mind wandered to the hundreds of thousands of teens who, not attending a district meet on Saturday, took to the streets to March For Our Lives.
Surviving Parkland students got this started. Others have helped it spread. Others will keep it going.
These kids are on a mission. They want to make it safer for all of us. I believe, finally, that they will be able to achieve something. I predict we’ll see more 18- to 21-year-old voters than ever come November.
And then …
I don’t know, but I pray their fervor will have spread to other age brackets, that we will all begin to view the world and its people as worthy of preservation. I pray the teens who are now driving this bus will not stop until justice is a reasonable expectation, until safe and available housing is assumed, until hunger and illness are topics buried in history books, until we don’t give a second thought to a possible mass murderer when we attend a movie, religious services or school.
I believe these kids will see things are taken care of.