We are heading into a week that features two holidays about re-birth, Passover and Easter. There are tiny purple flowers blooming in the garden and the rose bushes and trees are putting out hesitant buds. Here in New Mexico, life peeks out after the cold drought of winter. Persephone is signaling from the Underworld, letting us know she is on her way to rejoin her mother Demeter to insure that Life may continue. It is always good to note that life may continue.
Why do I feel the need to repeat that mantra? Perhaps to affirm the possibility, assure my readers and myself that despite the auxiliary verb “may,” there is a glimmer of hope, an actual chance, perhaps even good odds that, yes life may continue.
I want to tell you about a project with teens that I was asked to be a part of this month. And to share with you a beautiful essay by Michael Tallon, These Magic Kids, that is about the young people we’ve been watching take the reins in the fight for life here in our beleaguered country. My takeaway from watching these amazing “children” who are raising their strong voices in defiance of a kind of death cult that seems to have ridden off with the sanity of much of this country is: Life may continue, perhaps stronger and wiser than ever.
I’ve been listening and talking to a number of young folks these past couple weeks, not just the ones in the news, but in the streets before during and after the March for our Lives here in Santa Fe this past Saturday. I want to tell you about some kids I met at a conference held by FCCLA, a national life skills and leadership organization for youth.
I was asked to be a judge at a state wide competition where some of the FCCLA members made presentations of projects they’d been working on. Winners would go on to the national competition. I was one of two of adults judging the presentations of a project three students did to raise awareness of FCCLA in their schools and communities. There were an 8th grade African-American boy from Tucumcari, NM and two Latinx high-school girls from Albuquerque.
These students created PSAs, social-media campaigns, before-and after surveys, workshops, and other events to get the word out about FCCLA. They brought portfolios describing their processes, goals and results and they made oral presentations about them. They were chosen to come to this state competition at the Marriott Pyramid Hotel in Albuquerque. We may have been in a fake “pyramid,” but there was nothing fake about these kids.
These three had not had the privilege of the kind of educational and community resources that the Parkland students have. But they have the same passion, focus, drive, and determination we’ve been seeing on TV. And they obviously have at least one fine teacher-advocate for their futures. They were well spoken, organized, focused, and sweet as they could be.
When I asked the 8th grade boy from Tucumcari why he chose to join FCCLA, he replied that he wanted to learn how to comfortably talk to strangers. I know he said more than that, but I was struck by this young African-American taking the step of working on the skill to look the world in the eye, not with fear…which leads to so much anger…but with calm, friendly confidence. He and the two young women from Albuquerque are my in-person representatives of this new generation of Americans. I’m so glad they are here. Let’s help them.
(This blog was written in response to a brilliant article by Michael Tallon about the students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The link to his article is below. This photo of Emma Gonzalez is from the article.)