The "Millennials," as they've come to be called, have taken a lot of criticism — sometimes fairly and sometimes not — from the "Baby Boomers" and the "Generation Xers."
The next generation behind the Millennials, who haven't even been around long enough to have a name yet, get a lot of that heat as well. These are essentially the kids who are currently from high school age on down. Millennials are now between the ages of 19 and 36, give or take a few years, depending on who you ask.
They're so dumb they eat laundry detergent, we say. They listen to horrible music and watch horrible movies and follow the Kardashians. They're lazy, narcissistic, unrealistic, need "safe spaces," think everyone should get a trophy, and they behave as though they are entitled to everything.
We don't tend to mention that a lot of these kids went over to Iraq and Afghanistan to kill or be killed in wars that only existed because we screwed things up.
We forget that it was our generation who thought participation trophies were a good idea, not theirs.
We never mention that they give more to charity and do more charitable work than any generation before them did at that age, despite the fact that they have less earning potential and more debt than any generation before them did at that age.
We also forget that these are the first two generations that have to entertain the legitimate possibility that they could be shot to death just for going to school.
Last week's horrible events in Florida accentuated that possibility.
It was just the latest in a long history of mass shootings in the United States, many of them at schools.
The U.S. is the only nation that seems to have this problem, and sadly, we've gotten used to it. It's a routine now.
There's the press coverage, there's the shock, the sadness and anger.
Then there's all the ridiculous arguments and name-calling all over Facebook and Twitter and other social media, and on news shows, and we see people — who know they're wrong — work very hard to change the subject or rationalize their beliefs.
There are "thoughts and prayers" expressed by politicians, there's a lot of mindless, ignorant BS tossed around everywhere.
And then someone says it's "not the time" to talk about it, because of the poor victims and their families, and everyone forgets about it until the next mass shooting. Nothing ever gets done.
But something was different this time. These kids, this unnamed generation of kids — they aren't behaving like they're supposed to.
These kids aren't playing the victim game. These kids are different.
These kids are calling the rest of us out on our BS.
"Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see," said high school student Emma Gonzalez, who survived the tragedy, though many of her classmates didn't.
Another student, Cameron Kasky, spent the time during the shooting helping to protect his disabled younger brother and his special needs classmates.
"There were about 20 students. The lights were off. The door was closed," Kasky said. "My little brother, Holden, again, who does have special needs, was so brave. He kept himself together probably better than I did. And it was an hour of pain and confusion. And I'm very lucky to be here."
Kasky wrote an editorial piece called, "My Generation Won't Stand For This," which received a lot of attention this past weekend.
"To those who say we can't politicize this, they don't understand that if we don't politicize it, no action is going to come from this," Kasky said in an interview. "We need to start moving now. And as much as we love thoughts and prayers, we don't need them from our lawmakers. We need action, and we demand it. And we're going to get it."
Victims of horrible, tragic events have generally been expected to retreat from the fight, to ask for privacy and reflection and a mourning period.
Not these victims.
These victims are redefining the role of the victim, and they are doing it with an eloquence, intelligence and confidence that I'm not sure we've seen before. Certainly not from high school kids, perhaps not from anyone.
"Maybe the adults have gotten used to saying 'it is what it is,' but if us students have learned anything, it's that if you don't study, you will fail. And in this case, if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it's time to start doing something," Gonzalez said.
These kids and dozens like them were much more eloquent and intelligent than Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, for example, who last week spoke out against — well, against himself.
"It seems to be common for a lot of these shootings, in fact almost all of the shootings, is the mental state of the people," Grassley told reporters last week, after the shooting. "And we have not done a very good job of making sure that people that have mental reasons for not being able to handle a gun getting their name into the FBI files, and we need to concentrate on that."
Oh, but Grassley has already concentrated on that — just not the way he wants you to believe.
His statement seems reasonable enough — looking into ways to get unstable people on criminal watch lists is one thing that might work.
In fact, it kind of was working, once, until Grassley got involved.
One year ago Grassley was the chief — in fact, the only — sponsor of a bill to make it easier for the mentally impaired to buy a gun. That bill was one of the very first bills that President Donald Trump signed into law.
There was federal policy in place to prevent people who receive disability benefits due to mental illness from purchasing a firearm. The Social Security Administration reported those names to the FBI’s background-check system. By all accounts, that mechanism was working fine. Some people who shouldn't be getting guns weren't anymore.
Then Grassley got his law passed. The law put an immediate stop to the reporting.
It's unlikely that the Florida shooter was receiving disability benefits, so Grassley's bill probably didn't impact that particular incident.
But it certainly didn't help. And it would be interesting to see if the law impacted any other acts of violence.
And now, Grassley seems to have completely and conveniently forgotten that he did that. And he hopes we'll all forget that he received more than $230,000 in contributions from the National Rifle Association.
Perhaps it's Senator Grassley who is mentally ill?
Or perhaps it's those of us Iowans who have continued to vote for him, year after year.
Or perhaps it's the President himself who's mentally ill.
Mr. Trump — in a storm of embarrassing, barely-comprehensible, sometimes profane, usually grammatically-disabled Tweets throughout the weekend — alternatively blamed the victims, the FBI, the school, and neighbors and classmates of the shooter, among many other individuals and institutions. He then ham-handedly attempted to make the whole incident about himself, how he was somehow a victim in the shooting, and he complained about how he was going to have to miss a few rounds of golf because he had to visit victims and doctors at a hospital.
The President did mention mental illness on a few occasions, but offered no solutions, made no mention of that bill he signed into law that allows some dangerous and mentally unstable people to more easily obtain weapons, and somehow never mentioned that the National Rifle Association spent more than $30 million dollars on his behalf in 2016.
So I say we lighten up on the younger generations a little, and let them have their say.
Because if I have to choose between the duo of Grassley and Trump or the duo of those two high school kids, I'll choose the kids.
In fact, I'll just choose Holden, the special needs child, who was "so brave," hiding in the darkness, while his world exploded around him.
I'll choose that kid over the BS of any one of our elected officials, any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.
I'd like to think you'd choose him, too.