It happened at Sandy Hook. It happened at Columbine. Today (as I am writing) it is happening at Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. Students traumatized, frightened, and brave beyond measure returned to school. The rest of us go on with our lives while these young people must return to the scene of the crime. They go to pick up the belongings they left behind and find what might be left of the friends they had lost. The life they left in those corridors is not there. Everything is different. The world is not what they thought it was. Because of this event, the hope and innocence we all share as we grow into adulthood, I would have expected to have been left in the halls at Stoneman Douglas Hall, but for so many of these young people, it was not. Somehow these young people faced evil and were not defeated. They came out of the darkness into the light. They are not allowing the deaths of their friends to be without purpose. They are speaking truth to power without hesitation or guile.
A group of these students has been the primary spokespeople. For their courage, they were accused of being part of a liberal conspiracy, described as “crisis actors.” Right-wing pundits, so threatened by these young people, complained that 17-year-olds couldn’t organize protests. Regular high school kids could not be this articulate, could not be this bright. Their ideas could not be this fully formed. As a mother of three millennials, I can tell you, this generation is remarkable. I am continually impressed by their consideration, activism, and willingness to reach out beyond themselves. These high schoolers are a little young to qualify as millennials, but if this is what we have to look forward to, I can’t wait to see what is coming.
Usually, the way these things go is this: mass shooting, everyone is horrified, gun control advocates call for changes in gun laws, NRA and gun control resisters shout “We shouldn’t talk about that now. That would be heartless. Our prayers and thought should be with the victims and their families,” parents are deer in the headlights, have no way to react, have children to bury and care for. (I would be the same way.) A week goes by, and the nation sends their thoughts and prayers. The news cycle moves on, and the NRA dodged another bullet. Nothing to see here. We don’t have to worry about this until Michael Moore decides to make a movie about it. This time is different; these incredible students have put aside their pain to say “enough is enough. You are the adults. You have had time to fix this.” They are not buying any excuses about the politics of it, do not care how difficult it is, and are willing to lead the fight. I am willing to follow.
The first thing that they are doing that I want to point out here is that he is not allowing the President or anyone else to reframe the discussion. Trump has tried blaming the FBI or the officers on the scene. The students are not having it. They have responded to his tweets with power and truth. When Marco Rubio went to a CNN town hall meeting and said if we are going to make assault rifles illegal, we have to make all semi-automatic weapons illegal, the room full of students; parents; and school staff applauded. He seemed surprised and did not even seem to know who he was talking to.
I am not hopeful that this Congress will pass stricter gun legislation, but we may see changes in gun laws when these young people inspire voters to reject representatives who do not pass laws Americans want. Polls have shown over and over that voters favor stricter gun laws; over and over, Congress rejects taking even the simplest steps to change background checks or improve the system.
I will be attending the March for our Lives in the San Francisco Bay area on March 24th. To find out where Marches are planned in your area, check out the March for out Lives website: https://marchforourlives.com/. You can March, sign a petition, donate, or purchase merchandise. You can even register to vote on the site. They have thought of everything.
No matter what you think needs to happen, from better background checks to outlawing semi-automatic weapons, go to the polls and vote for the candidate with you on this. Again, marching is not enough. It is only the beginning. These young people need support.
Please comment, and share.
It is a cold, overcast and occasionally rainy day as I write about what the president called a “perfect day for all Women to March.” I marched the Women’s March Contra Costa in Walnut Creek, CA. The weather was beautiful. The marchers, not all women, were enthusiastic. The atmosphere was powerful. My favorite sign of the day was “Who will help me find Donald Trump’s Horcruxes.” Many of my fellow marchers who had been there last year, claimed that this year’s march was bigger than last year’s march. I believe that many local marchers were like me; they had gone to Washington, DC last year and were participating in their local march this year.
The message for the March itself was straightforward and direct. VOTE. Marching does not matter. Objecting does not matter. Calling our representatives in Congress does not matter. None of it matters if we do not vote. The only way to change things in this country is to vote, get others to vote, and register people to vote. The theme for the March this year was “Power to the Polls.” We have moved from activism focused on opposing Trump's agenda to one that focuses on controlling our future. In the last year, 26,000 women have signed up with Emily’s list, committing to run for office in 2018. We need to look for the women we support and donate, volunteer, and vote for them in our local, state, and national elections.
Everyone has a story. Something brought them to the March in the first place; a line that they could not cross. For me, it was people I care about fearful in the face of the Trump/Pence victory. Afraid that their rights and safety were threatened. As a mother, I could not stay silent if others are not safe. I have been a labor activist and have been politically active for many years. I just know that now, the activism is different because I am reaching out beyond the narrow range of interests that I had acted upon in the past. I connected with a local Indivisible group, started a Huddle group, connected with local progressive groups. I even started this blog. My niece, who teaches kindergarten at a Catholic school in LA, invited kindergarteners from a Muslim school nearby to have lunch with her students. This year she did it bigger and better by organizing an event for all the students at both schools to participate, not just the kindergarteners. It was again a big hit. All this unites us as Americans and fosters peace.
Last year we came together as a group of activists and activists in training. This year we were warriors, tried and true. Many individuals had found a direction for themselves. Most of you reading this blog have chosen a path; you have selected an issue that you are passionate about that you commit your energy too. The Indivisible group I most closely associate with is Contra Costa County Indivisible. It is a large group of about 700 to 1000 members. So the group is divided into smaller units so that members can work on the issues most important to them. That includes members working on immigration, criminal justice, the environment, and education. All members are encouraged to take action in all areas. Action in local government, as well as State and Federal movements. Our leadership works closely with our elected officials, such as Congressman Mark Desaulnier.
We have gone from a group of Americans who are angry and against the Trump/Pence agenda, to a group of Americans for an agenda of inclusion in advancing democracy and real freedom for all rather than a system that allows for freedom for those who can pay for it. Encouraging others to vote and advocating for voting rights is key to advancing the rights of all members of society. That is the key to maintaining a democratic system. Focusing on voting as a fundamental right of American citizenship is one area that we can all agree on.
The young people from Parkland, Florida who have been speaking out about gun control and organizing their peers are incredible. They are an example of how to speak truth to power. They have maintained their message and seem to have been watching what has been happening over the last year. The media seems to be ready to listen to them. They are taking the voice they are given and using it with power. I will be writing more about this in my next post.
Please comment, share, and like. I am anxious for others to share their experiences about in the Women’s March. How was it different for you this year versus last year?