Never Again?

     It happened again in February, another horrific school shooting, this time at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Every time newscasters say “Stoneman” my heart sinks as my mind hears “Stoneham”. This school shooting happened on Valentine’s Day, a day for acknowledging someone special in our life. Instead, seventeen special people were ripped from the lives of families and friends who loved them.

     Society’s reaction follows the same cycle after a tragedy of this magnitude. First comes the shock, then sadness, then grief, then outrage, then consoling, then blame and lastly a cry for change. A month later, apathy sets in and the country moves on.

     How can the problem be fixed if it can’t even be identified? Guns. Bullying. Mental health issues. Glorified violence. Lack of parenting. The FBI for dropping the ball. The town sheriff’s poor leadership The deputy who didn’t do his job. The laws we currently have that don’t work. The finger pointing is endless. No one is to blame and everyone is to blame.

     This tragedy seems different from others in recent memory. The aftermath seems to have ignited a flashpoint for change. This new generation has had enough. They are angry. They want answers. They want someone to be held accountable. They want the people in positions of authority to do something. Anything other than offering “thoughts and prayers” which doesn’t seem to be working at this point.

     These students, children really, spoke to reporters to get their voices heard. “We are the children, Do something for us. Find a solution for this. We need help. We can’t stop this. You are the adults. You make the laws.” The interviews I saw made powerful television.

     The speech at a press conference by student survivor Emma Gonzalez garnered a lot of press attention and social media buzz. Anger and frustration got the better of her at times but her passion came through loud and clear. Another outspoken survivor, seventeen year old David Hogg, became the media liaison for his generation. He is clean-cut, articulate, forceful without hysterics. What politician in their right mind is going to argue with a school shooting survivor? These young people are the antithesis of the 1960’s hippie generation who were the last group to advocate an overhaul in our society. Clearly it’s time for change again. From what I’ve seen in the past two months, this may be the generation who accomplishes it.

     My heart breaks for the victims and their families of this mindless and unnecessary tragedy. School is overwhelming enough on a daily basis. When I attended school, in a simpler time, the worst thing that could happen to us was forgetting our lunch or getting detention for talking in class.

     It’s time for this nightmare to end. A movement has blossomed out of the Stoneman Douglas High School shootings. A march on Washington is planned in the next couple of weeks. President Trump and his administration are going to have their hands full trying to walk on political eggshells trying to appease everyone. This generation is outraged. This generation wants answers. They want solutions. Some of the survivors have vowed to spend the rest of their life making sure this never happens again. It’s an uphill battle but they seem more determined to change things than any generation before them.

     With the amount of criticism these teen-age activists are taking, it’s only a matter of time before “the system” wears them down. They have exposed the ineffectiveness of elected politicians who stood silently during town meetings when faced with raging parents and angry children who wanted answers. The politicians offered nothing in return, afraid to comment knowing anything they said could cost them votes. Their silence spoke volumes. These student activists are fighting as if their lives depend on it. They are inheriting this world. And if they can’t change it, who will?

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