Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Reluctant activist
Not to date myself, but I was a young teen when Nixon resigned. I remember one evening while visiting a friend her parents called us out of her room, so we could watch the historic announcement. I was a typical teenage girl and did not have all that much interest in politics. I watched, not entirely realizing the significance of the moment, but with enough of an understanding to give it the attention it deserved.
Of course, I had heard about Watergate — the trial was on the television ad nauseum much of the year prior and the impeachment hearing had been going on for months.
Soon enough there was President Ford and then President Carter. Following the tumultuous ’60s (the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, the assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother Bobby and Martin Luther King, etc.) I think America was ready for some political down time.
Back in the day
Very little earth shattering events took place over the next few years. Margaret Thatcher did become the first female Prime Minister elected in the U.K. and a little company called “Apple” Incorporated was founded. But, for the most part, things were calm.
I was already out of high school when Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran after 15 years in exile and declared the United States “The Great Satan.” It would be a while before I was paying attention to that part of the world.
In all reality, I came of age at a time in history when it was easy to be politically apathetic. I understood the political process, but for the most part I stayed out of it, as did many of my peers.
It was easy to sleep through current events and little attention was given to who was doing what in Washington. I exercised my right to vote but that was about it. I graduated from high school not entirely convinced the government did not have my best interests at heart.
When it came to the world of politics I was fairly naïve. I can’t speak for the rest of the graduating class, but I don’t recall more than one in 600 who showed political aspirations. We were a complacent bunch. Uninterested and innocent.
I had to contend with a bully or two but to say it was a simpler time would be a gross understatement. Thankfully, I grew up with little photographic evidence. There was no social media, world wide web, Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. My life came with plausible deniability and a lot of my word against theirs.
Kids today have it rough
Not so for the youth of today. Had I lived in an era of 24 hour scrutiny coupled with a real fear for my safety given the ever-increasing number of school shootings, I am not sure how very different I would be.
How much more frustrating and difficult it must be to be a teen graduating from high school now. They have been forced to wake up and pay attention. They can no longer feel completely safe and remain silent, trusting adults, and more specifically, the government, to protect them.
I like to think I would have been one to stand up and speak out. I do hope that I would have become a reluctant social activist as I see the likes of Emma Gonzalez doing now. Gonzalez survived the Parkland Florida attack and found an audience with her “We call BS” speech seen by millions. She is not alone in turning her fear and anger into action.
I grew up in the “children are to be seen and not heard” era. That era is one that is long gone. And thank the heavens for that.
As a woman, the fight for equality has been featured prominently throughout my life and most recently with the #metoo and #timesup movements, I have found myself hopeful, even encouraged that change is going to come.
The reaction of our teens over the horrific number of shootings and their determination to see change is inspiring. I hope they stay angry and I hope they organize and effect real change in the world they will be living in long after I am gone.
Looking around I see many, many people stepping up to be part of the solution and to be strong enough to insist on the changes that are necessary for us to remain a free society. The number of women running for office has increased by the tens of thousands over the last 18 months alone. And teenagers are expected to turn out to vote in the mid-terms at an unprecedented rate.
We raise our children to be confident and to stand up for what they believe is right. Given a choice, I think they would choose innocence over marches on Washington, but this is their time, and this is the world they live in.
Be it reluctantly or with fire in their conviction, we should not be surprised they are stepping up to fight for their lives.
I think this might be a different take on the phrase “women and children first.” It took a shake up to get us to wake up and I don’t think anyone is going back to sleep any time soon.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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