Leadership frequently arrives at one’s feet by way of a galvanizing event. Mentioning February 14, 2018 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as such a case would be an understatement, though the capacities of the English language fail in this regard. When galvanizing events encounter properly prepared individuals, leadership is a natural evolution.
The students, faculty, adults, allies, and others that marched today did so for a purpose: to recover from disaster. “Recovery” inevitably denotes two potential pathways; a) a return to normalcy, which irrevocably seems to be not what the marchers are requesting, or b) an marked improvement over the pre-disaster condition. Taking a bird’s eye view of the movement, the leaders of this effort decidedly chose the second.
Despite being maligned incessantly for everything from immaturity to falsehood, and most recently for not having processed their emotions, the Parkland students took this opportunity and turned it into a leadership moment when so much other “leadership” has failed. In no other situation in the history of either our country or the world has it been more evident that titles do not necessarily denote leadership. Appropriate training, skills, and mental preparedness, recognition of the objective, timing, and proximity describe proper technique. The students have all of these, they have it because of the school they attended and the activities in which they engaged, and they employed it in exemplary fashion.
The country stands in awe of March for Our Lives’ ability to organize, to express, to cogitate, debate, understand policy, express direction, define timelines, and require goals. Our land stands surprised as if it has scarcely known similar individuals previously. I argue that these characteristics were prevalent and pervasive during my generation, and prior. Liberal Arts Education, and its attendant enrichments, provide the mentality required to produce precisely this sort of engagement. This sort of engagement is both the reason its style of education — steeped in philosophical inquiry and critical thinking, — has been so hard fought against, as well as why now more than ever it is absolutely imperative that it continues. It is only this style of education that will lead us out of our current state of Banana Republic back to global powerhouse.
To quote: “ Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
The purpose of mentioning educational modality is to indicate that not only does the country require major shifts in policy and political landscaping, not only are many staid societal norms in dire need of elimination, but one of the most effective strategies for sea change is via education. With any luck, the leadership of this movement will realize their received gifts and see to it that those who come after them receive the same. They will brush aside the trappings of their immediate predecessors, and ensure a new era of creativity, insight, and critical thought dawns. Amazingly, their energetic spark has repowered the political grid from Florida to Seattle. It seems their leadership is sufficient to guide us through the change management we so desperately need.