Why this one? I wonder. Why was this the shooting that motivated so many to action? I know I’m not alone in wondering this. I’ve heard so many people wonder why, after 26 babies and their teachers were gunned down, we collectively shrugged and went back to our business. But for some reason, we are now paying attention. For all intents and purposes, the Parkland shooting was relatively routine: high school kids, troubled adolescent with easy access to a gun, basically just a Wednesday in America. But this one is different.
A few days after this most recent horrific shooting, I went to Mexico for a weekend to visit my parents. I use my time in Mexico as a screen vacation as much as possible. I try to read books instead of Facebook and watch the whales jump instead of watching the news. So I was truly shocked when I rejoined the social media world to find my Facebook feed continued to be filled with the topic of gun control. I assumed it would be another flash in the pan. Another occasion for us all to take sides, offer platitudes and then get on with it, pretending that we won’t be right back here in a couple weeks. And make no mistake, my Facebook feed was filled with just as many calls to arm teachers as calls to prevent 15-year-olds from easily obtaining assault rifles. We are no closer to a solution than we were after Sandy Hook. But the conversation has persisted. That’s what makes this one different. That’s what makes me feel like we might actually be getting somewhere this time. Finally.
So what is it that makes this time different? Part of me thinks that we’re just done. That enough of us are done having the same conversation over and over and over. But I don’t think that actually places the accolades where they belong. I think the real reason this time is different is that this time they came for the wrong group of kids. I’ve heard alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School say that they are not surprised by the action taken by the survivors. They recount stories of a curriculum that teaches civic engagement, social responsibility and civil rights. They encourage students to use their voice and to have an opinion.
So maybe that’s all it took — students who knew they were allowed to ask more of us. Students who compelled us to ask more of each other. I know for sure that I am behind them, and if they can start these difficult conversations, we sure as shit should be able to engage them.
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