Fear, Hope and Inclusivity
I was anxious about the weather and where I would find a bathroom. How big would the crowd be and would I feel claustrophobic? What would happen if I got separated from my group?
It turned out to be a sunny warm day, no issues with bathrooms or the crowd. I have traveled all over the world, so getting around D.C. wasn’t scary once I got there. By the end of the day, these small fears were nothing compared to what was being said from the stage. They were in fact, minuscule in comparison.
But this article, this day, this once in a lifetime experience is not about me. It’s about what I experienced as a movement. It cannot be denied because the presenters were under 20. It cannot be ignored, no matter what number you believe, 200,000 or 800,000, because the correct number of people who showed up doesn’t matter. If you are locked in that argument you are missing the point. So what is the point?
The point is that a new generation is learning to live with a new constant, violence, overt and all too often. Feeling safe is no longer a constant. I remember after 9/11 that every time a low flying plane came by my home, I looked to the skies to see if it would crash or blow up before my eyes. When the fire department siren went off, I was keenly aware of how long it lasted. My fears dissipated rather quickly. This generation does not have that luxury. This violence doesn’t only affect those who are victims. It forever changes their family, their friends and so many who never even knew them, like myself.
I have heard the comments that they are just kids, they are just full of themselves and they are not mature enough to make these kinds of commitments or understand all of the circumstances surrounding the problem. For those you who are more concerned with judging others than listening I ask; How many of you have had your friend’s brains splattered on you? How many have run from a shooter wondering in each long second whether the next bullet will hit you?
This is what I heard and saw on March 24, 2018, in our Nation’s Capital:
- Parkland students willing to admit that the only reason they were being listened to was that they came from affluent neighborhoods
- Victims willing to share the stage with those less fortunate who normally don’t get the opportunity to express their disdain, fear, and the plea for change
- A call for gun safety, not gun confiscation
- The realization that this is not a Republican or Democrat issue, it’s a life and death issue
- The best statistics available to show how many lives might be saved by a ban on assault weapons. (Isn’t one enough?)
- Up to 90% of Americans agree that background checks are a good idea.
There is no one solution that will cure the problem. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the first step. Why not start with what most Americans can agree upon?
In the words of 11-year-old Naomi Walder, she has seven short years to vote. She is also soon to become your next intern and/or employee. You better learn what she and so many others like her need.
I may not live long enough to see all of the changes they make, but I hope they do. #EnoughIsEnough
Don’t take it from this boomer.
Read what Clair Pullen, 19, has to say:
“I was born only one year before Columbine, so I have never really known a world without regular school shootings. Knowing how little those in power seem to value the lives of the victims is utterly and completely depressing, and the numbing repetition of news coverage and predictable cycle of social media response almost lulls you into a state of grim acceptance that maybe this is just the way things are.
But Parkland felt different. The leadership and determination shown by these incredible kids in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting is nothing short of inspiring. And even though common-sense legislation addressing the root causes of the countless tragedies since 1999 has not yet been passed by Congress, these young activists show that change is most definitely on its way. I wanted to capture that feeling of inspiration, determination, and empowerment through art.
While the reasons for the protests and walkouts are tragic and saddening, the fact that they are finally being addressed is momentous. I wanted to capture that positive side to the movement – the spark of hope – with the bright, warm, eye-catching colors, as well as the images of some of the students-turned-activists, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, and Delaney Tarr. But while I wanted the focus to be on positivity and hope, I also wanted to acknowledge those who lost their lives in past shootings, including more muted, abstract likenesses of some of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.
Finally, politicians who feel it appropriate to talk down to these students as if they’re less than equal citizens forget that very soon, those same students will be exercising their right to vote and decide who replaces them, as the images of the Parkland kids look on at the capitol building and reach for the ballot.
In the words of suffragist Lavinia Dock in 1917, “What is the potent spirit of youth? Is it not the spirit of revolt, of rebellion against senseless and useless and deadening things? … The old stiff minds must give way. The old selfish minds must go. Obstructive reactionaries must move on. The young are at the gates!”
This poster was created by Claire Pullen. You can reach her at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org
An article was written by Julie Ann Sullivan. She is a Life Long Learner and Business Culture