The morning of Valentine’s Day 2018, I put my eight-year-old on the school bus and reminded him as I do every day to, “Be kind today, buddy. You never know who needs it, okay?” He rolled his eyes but hugged me anyway and stumbled to his seat as the bus lurched forward.
A few hours later, while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I saw friend after friend urgently posting questions like, “What is happening in Parkland?!” and, “My kids are there!” Major news organisations started reporting that shots had been fired at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. When the dust cleared, 17 students had died, and 17 students were injured.
I was sick to my stomach with sadness and a simmering rage.
I immediately began to look for ways I could join the growing wave of angry parents and kids demanding change. It didn’t take long before a group of incredibly brave, articulate students from Parkland—students who are still grieving and still processing what happened to them—stood up in front of the world and decided that since the grown-ups can’t seem to get their sh*t together to change gun laws, they would.
Hallelujah! They quickly organised grassroots rallies, marches, and walkouts. The biggest event yet is a march on our nation’s capital, taking place tomorrow, March 24th. For those who cannot get to DC, similar marches are being planned in more than 840 places around the world. Though the number of participants is yet unknown, it’s sure to be a moving demonstration of solidarity among kids and families who are fed up with the gun advocates who value their right to bear arms over kids’ rights to life and safety.
As a mother, I wholeheartedly support this movement, and I am making damn sure that my kids are watching and listening.
Why am I so upset? Because like so many other parents, this issue hits home. My eight-year-old has participated in lock-down drills at school. He has asked me who the “bad people” are who might go to his school, and why they’d want to hurt his friends. What he doesn’t know is that I wonder the same thing.
Will my child’s school be next? How will my kid’s school protect him? Why aren’t our leaders doing more to prevent this crap from happening in the first place?
I am sick of hearing the gun-rights advocates spew their litany of excuses for why their love of guns—machines meant to kill—trumps our children’s safety. The NRA shouldn’t be allowed to contribute to politicians if it forces politicians to ignore their constituents who are loudly screaming, begging, and demanding for them to change the flipping gun laws.
I want public schools to be a safe place where children can thrive. Our kids’ biggest worries should be how they’ll do on math tests or who to sit with at lunch—not where to hide in case someone with an AR-15 decides to gun down their entire class.
I’m tired of the bullies in this country having the last say. It’s about damn time that we give kids a chance to not only succeed but to do so in a country that actively protects them. So, yes, I support walkouts, I support marches, and I support protests. I support doing whatever we can to change these horrific laws that allow the most dangerous people in our country to exact their plans of domestic terrorism.
I will throw my money at organisations that advocate for safe public spaces. I will spread the words of kids who are brave enough to stand up to politicians and ask pointed questions about what they are doing to make all of us safer. I will empower and encourage my own children to take their place in this fight to make our country safer and to take children seriously. Because our kids’ lives literally depend on it.
For more information about how to get involved, visit MarchForOurLives.com.