Mom and I watched part of the March for Our Lives on television and were impressed with the many articulate and passionate speakers – all teenagers plus a couple of 11-12 year olds. It was terrific to see them stand up for what they believe in and rally people to their cause. We often see images of teenagers as self-absorbed or apathetic or superficial – this was an inspirational counter-image.
Listening to them describe what it was like to lose siblings and friends to violence was gut wrenching … and very alien. There were issues and problems when I was in high school, but nothing remotely like this. It makes me sad that these smart, creative and animated kids are having to deal with mass violence and violation of what should be safe spaces. And yet, they have seized on an opportunity to potentially change things for the better. There is something wonderful in finding the inspiration to act, even when confronting tragedy.
Regardless of where people stand on the issue of gun control – and there is reason to believe that common ground can be found – seeing young people engaged in society is terrific. Seeing them EXCITED about VOTING is terrific. I don’t have children of my own, but was proud of those who came out to march – I have participated in many marches over the years and they are very exciting and rewarding. Regardless of the issue or opinions being expressed, marches and elections are democracy in action and I am always happy to see people be involved. It’s when we become apathetic that I worry!
I hope they are able to sustain that energy and enthusiasm, and are up for the inevitable challenges they will face in trying to move their agenda. Saturday was their day but there are a lot of gun rights advocates out there who will have their say as well. I hope we can move beyond the extreme voices on the pro- and anti-gun debate so that the moderate voices can be heard and pragmatic steps can be taken. You know … those pragmatic steps supported by 60-70% of the public. I hope the students are not discouraged – this debate has been around since well before they were born and I’m guessing that progress will not be quick or easy.
I hope that we can have respectful and constructive discussion – rather than shouting at one another, calling each other names and other nonproductive behavior – on all of the important issues of the day. It seems that many people (on both sides of the aisle) have forgotten how to be civil in their discourse and have forgotten that their opponents have a voice too. There are problems that need to be fixed and solutions that require serious discussion, not dismissal of those with different opinions. Our policies are a balancing act that reflect the fact that we all have both rights and limits on those rights. Engagement is what a democracy needs to remain vital and alive … let’s hope we can call on “our better angels” and come together to make a better life for our (collective) children.