When I write I always try to stay clear of 3 topics ….. Politics, Religion and the Great Pumpkin. The reason I do that is because I fancy myself more of a humorist than an activist. My mom compared my writing to Erma Bombeck and so I continue to strive for that style of writing.
But every now and then a subject weighs on my mind and I want to write about it, but I shy away because there is no way to write about it in a lighthearted fashion. Usually those topics also come with a lot of either political or religious baggage – mostly political but unfortunately people usually find a way to tie politics and religion together. So today I decided to break my own rules and just write because my mind really can’t let this one go.
In the last few weeks I’ve watched with amazement a generation stand up for themselves and tell the country they are tired of becoming victims and they want change. I’ve also watched in disbelief and disappointment the older generations response to this change. The young people of our country are telling us, the adults, they are tired of being afraid their school might be next, tired of having to practice lockdown drills, and tired of mourning the loss of classmates and friends. And the responses I’ve seen range from “they don’t understand what they are talking about,” to “they should be nicer to their classmates and stop bullying,” and even “kids don’t know anything about civics, laws or government.”
Really? That’s the response we give the nations kids when they say they want change? That’s the response we give to kids who are expressing to us that they are scared and want us to do something? I actually read an article by a freelance journalist who targeted one of the teens specifically from Parkland Florida for making remarks about the NRA’s spokeswoman. I saw a post on Twitter that said this journalist had targeted one of the teenager speakers from Parkland Florida and I honestly thought (or maybe even secretly hoped) that it was one of those blown out of proportion articles that people with political agendas post to gain more followers and fuel more debate. So, I went to the journalists Twitter page and there it was in black and white – an unapologetic article calling a 16-year-old a “bully” because he dared to share a negative opinion he has of the NRA’s spokeswoman. And again, I said, Really?
“They don’t understand what they are talking about.” Trust me, they do. They know that they are supposed to be able to go to school and learn in a safe environment. They know that they have seen time and time again on television kids their age being escorted past bodies of their classmates out of school with their hands above their heads by police officers. They know they don’t want their school to be the next headline. Let’s be honest, when we went to high school did it ever even cross your mind that a classmate might come into school and start randomly shooting people? No, it didn’t. We never had lock-down drills. In the 50’s and 60’s there were “duck and cover” drills for nuclear attacks, but by the time I was in school even they weren’t practiced. In four years of high school the only significant event I remember was when we had to evacuate the school because someone had called in a bomb threat. There was no bomb, it was just a hoax by a student wanting to get out of an exam.
“They should be nicer to their classmates and stop bullying.” I completely agree. Everyone should be nicer to their classmates, neighbors, co-workers and stop bullying. But, if we’re being honest….. Yeah that’s what I thought. Are you always kind, nice and polite to ALL your co-workers or neighbors? Nope. Were you always kind, nice and respectful to ALL the kids you went to school with? Nope. The hardest lesson I had to teach my kids when they started school was that everyone doesn’t have the same heart that you do. Not everyone you meet wants to be a friend or sometimes even nice. And then as a parent you must answer that awkward question of what your child should do when someone is mean to them. Maybe finding a solution to this problem should be on the top of everyone’s agenda instead using the blow off excuse – don’t bully your classmates and that alone will stop school violence.
“Kids don’t know anything about civics, laws or government.” They are in school learning about these topics every day. Some of them probably have better knowledge of these topics than we do as adults because they are actively studying them. Granted many of them don’t have the same view about these topics that we do – and they shouldn’t they are growing up in a different era with different problems and challenges. Don’t fool yourselves though, they are educating themselves faster than we are giving them credit for.
In my daughter’s school there are posters in every class room detailing the lockdown plan and response plan for an active shooter. She’s been taught to turn her backpack around and wear it so that her chest is somewhat protected by her books and folders from gunfire. Every day she and her classmates carry clear, see though backpacks to reduce the chance of a student hiding a gun or knife. My son’s school had to cancel classes twice due to an active credible threat of violence – for months the school had extra police officers at the doors checking for weapons. It took the FBI nearly a year and a half for to find out the threat was some cyber terrorist halfway across the country who just randomly selected my son’s school and not an actual student. These kids know EXACTLY what they are marching, protesting and fighting for.
Kids today are taught to RUN, HIDE, FIGHT. That’s the national campaign for all American’s to prepare for an active shooter situation. RUN if it’s safe, HIDE if you can’t RUN and as a last resort FIGHT. With so many past school shootings kids have run away or hid from the national spotlight on their school. Suddenly and maybe unexpectedly, with the last school shooting, they decided to fight. The kids in Parkland Florida didn’t follow the script written by past school shootings – they didn’t just hold candlelight vigils and prayer circles and quietly shrink out of the spotlight. They started speaking up and speaking out and rallying teens all over the nation to do the same. And I, for one, am proud that they are standing up for themselves. Isn’t that part of what we teach our kids? Stand up for yourself. If you see something say something. Don’t be upset because they are finally listening to us.
I’m not writing this to debate gun control, the 2nd Amendment, the NRA, the media, politicians, the President, Republicans, Democrats, conservatives or liberals. Yes, all these things play a role in this. And yes, all these things influence this. But, for me, it’s not about any of those things it’s about our kids. Our kids are asking for our help, they are asking to be safe, they are asking for change. Adults can continue to push them aside and ignore them or tell them they don’t understand what they are talking about but keep in mind they won’t be kids forever. One day they will be the ones leading the country – our response to them now matters.
I certainly don’t have the answer. Sadly, I don’t think anyone does. And my opinion or your opinion on gun control, the 2nd Amendment, the NRA, the media, politicians, the President, Republicans and Democrats or conservative ideas and liberal ideas isn’t the answer either. Everyone has an opinion – what we are lacking are true solutions to the problem.
Disclaimer— if you plan on trolling this blog I won’t respond. One of the hardest but most important things I’ve learned over the years is not to swing at pitches in the dirt. Don’t take my silence as weakness I just refuse to trade jabs for the sake of arguing.