Are The Times A-Changin?

“Those kids are INCREDIBLE!”

Maybe you’re heard a similar sentiment lately. Maybe you’re among those who are surprised as passionate, articulate young people step forward following another tragedy to claim #neveragain.

We’ve heard all about how these spoiled, entitled millennials with noses buried in their phones would be the end of civilization. Sort of like my dad was sure those “long-haired hippies” would bring us down…if the civil rights protesters didn’t beat them to it. Every generation infuriates those that preceded; it’s their job. This one is no exception.

I’m not surprised at all.

I spent 35 years among kids. I started with the long hair (me and the students) and finished up with smartphones. Across decades and generations those young folks were consistently exasperating and frustrating. They made me crazy with their cliques and their eternal focus on themselves.

My students also showed me, time and time again, their capacity for love and their ability to respond to high expectations. And they demonstrated a youthfully naive sensitivity to injustice.

I’m not at all surprised when young people who feel betrayed by society finally say ENOUGH. Their fumbling honesty, their belief that that things are simpler than they are… I saw that stuff all the time.

What we ought to be doing is applauding them, supporting and encouraging them. We ought to be there to hold them when they discover that change isn’t quick or easy, that they’re opposed by powerful groups with a lot at stake in the status quo.

Maybe these kids will give up when it gets hard. Maybe they will get distracted by Facebook or the Prom. Honestly, that’s what they should be thinking about. They shouldn’t have to worry about guns at school and burying their friends.

But maybe a few will stick with it, and maybe they’ll make some progress toward #neveragain. I hope so.

Maybe one or two will have the impact another kid had 55 years ago when he wrote a poem that became a song that became the anthem of a different movement. Some declared Bob Dylan a prophet. Years later he became a Nobel laureate.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Come gather around people, wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics, who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin’
Will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don’t criticize what you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

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