A month ago today on February 14, 2018, one of the deadliest mass school shootings occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, USA. Along with a lot of my compatriots, I braced myself for the usual round of reactions, because this is very far from a situation without precedent in my homeland. My fellow Americans and I knew what always seems to come next.
The dismay, the grief, the outrage.
The thoughts and prayers.
The talk about “maybe this time–finally–things will be different.”
The calls for gun control (knowing nothing will probably happen).
The calls for better mental health care (unfunded, of course).
The arguments about good guys versus bad guys that have never yet seemed rooted in practical reality to me.
The legislative attempts that no one can get quite enough people behind, to pass.
The “must pass” bills that accrue amendments like barnacles. then sink under their weight.
The gradual subsidence into the previous status quo.
Except this time something different happened. The surviving students of Stoneman Douglas High School didn’t wait for the adults to figure it out. They stood up and said, “#ENOUGH.” They walked out in protest. They went to the state capitol and demanded change.
They stood together. They stood strong. And pretty soon other kids stood with them. In spite of some administrators’ threats to punish them, students all over the country began to stand up and say “we’re tired of being targets while you adults argue!”
|March 7, 2018 student protests at the Minnesota state capitol in Mankato–AP Photo by Jim Mone.
Today, on the one-month anniversary of the shooting, students from all over the country will walk out of class in solidarity with the Stoneman Douglas students–including students from our local Kansas City area schools–most with the (wise) blessing of their administrators. So far the legislative responses have been mixed, but as a former high school journalism teacher I am here to tell you that experiences like this don’t soon fade from a young person’s memory.
And even though some of the kids on these protest marches are currently too young to vote, I’m willing to bet they won’t forget this experience once they are old enough. If I were a sitting legislator, I’d be taking note of that.
IMAGES: Many thanks to NPR, Steve Inskeep, Getty Images, and Joe Raedle for the photo of students evacuating Stoneman Douglas High after the attack on Feb. 14; to Politic365 and Jeffrey Koterba of the Omaha World-Herald for the cartoon; to CNN for the photo of Stoneman Douglas students protesting; to the Mankato Free Press, AP images, and Jim Mone, for the photo of the student protest in Mankato, MN; to AL.com (Advance Local/Alabama Media Group), The Berkshire Eagle, AP Images, and Gillian Jones for the photo of Taconic High School students marching in Pittsfield, MA on Feb. 27, 2018 in solidarity with the Florida students;