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They Fill Me With Hope: The Parkland #NeverAgainMSD Teens

By Martie Hevia | Blue Beach Song™

[Updated: 2018-Feb-25 – 1:20 p.m. PT]

Bird in Half Moon Bay 2016 Summer 1wmLately, I have not done much writing. And, if I am honest with myself, it is because our crisis-ridden political environment is overwhelming.

Every day, throughout the day, we are shocked or dismayed by something new.

Every day, we are called to arms to preserve, protect and defend something or someone threatened by those in power. We do it by protesting and marching; calling and writing our Senators and Representatives;  holding politicians accountable for their promises and actions; boycotting or supporting corporations and organizations;  standing up or sitting out; voicing our opposition through blogs and social media; staying informed and educated on the daily changes in the news and issues; or finding some other small way to make a difference. Every day, there is some new thing that gets piled on to the ever-growing list of more and more serious things we need to address and resolve. Every day.

Blog post ideas are not lacking. All I have to do is turn on the news, pick up a newspaper, or look on Twitter and every hashtag is a potential blog post I should write about, but before I finish writing it, the next shoe drops: #TrumpRussia; #MeToo; #DACA; #Dreamers; #NoMuslimBan; #TheWall; #TheDossier; #Collusion; #Emoluments; #ClimateChange; #Off-ShoreOilDrilling; #NuclearWar; #HealthCare; #MuellerInvestigation; #Impeachment; #FakeNews; #RiggedElections; #Immigrants; #WomensMarch; #NetNeutrality; #StopGunViolence; #GunControl; #LasVegas; #NeverAgain; #Parkland…

Another mass-shooting. Worse. Another mass-shooting at a school. This time a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Remember Columbine in 1999? Not much has changed in nearly 20 years.

This past October, I wrote about the Las Vegas mass-shooting at a concert my son and his wife attended. He felt bullets fly by. He covered his wife with his body. People near him were killed. We texted from shortly after 10 p.m. until nearly 5 a.m. as I fed him information I was gathering from the Las Vegas reporters, police scanners, and people on the ground via Twitter. I didn’t know what else to do except try to keep my son armed with information all the way from California. It was a terrifying night, but with every text I knew he was still okay. And with every text I was doing something. I needed to feel like I was doing something.

All the usual debates that ensue after a mass-shooting, once again, resulted in nothing.

So, when I see the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students who survived the mass shooting at their school turn their grief immediately into action, well, it fills me with hope.

These students are demanding and getting change. They are marching and protesting. They are unabashedly speaking truth to power and confronting politicians at the State Capitol and the Nation’s Capitol and the White House. They are articulately, intelligently, and passionately representing their friends, who no longer have a voice, by speaking to every media outlet that shoves a microphone in their face. They have taken social media by storm. They are pleading for changes to gun laws that will prevent another school shooting, save lives, and spare any other kid – your kid, my kid, someday their kids – from living through the hell and trauma they have experienced.

Yes, they fill me with hope.

At a time when our current political climate drains me of hope every day, I am so grateful to them for giving it back.

I think most people, regardless of politics, respect what these students are doing and empathize with what they have gone through.

Most people.

Unfortunately, some people – adults who should know better – have taken to social media to discredit these students by cyber-bullying or ridiculing or lying about these survivors-turned-activists. They question their intentions, their intelligence, or their experience. They verbally attack. They threaten physical violence.

Why? What have they done?

They are simply asking adults to protect kids from gun violence. To keep them safe at school. To cut through the “BS” that the NRA pushes about protecting the second amendment, when all they are protecting are the profits of the gun manufacturers.

Is their right to life less important than someone’s right to own an AR-15, a weapon of war whose only purpose is to kill as many human beings as possible, as efficiently as possible, by shredding their flesh and internal organs?

Friday night, I came a cross a tweet written by a Lutheran Reverend, a father, who wrote something insulting to a couple of the more vocal #NeverAgainMSD students. He isn’t alone, but it struck me because he was a member of the clergy, a dad, someone whom I would hope would show some maturity and empathy toward these teenagers.

We exchanged a few tweets. I pointed out that these are teenagers, kids, who have experienced the most traumatic thing one could possibly imagine and that some empathy is not too much to ask, especially from a reverend and father.

As adults, regardless of political party or position on gun control, I hope that we all remember that these teenagers, although extremely articulate and intelligent, are still young people, kids, who have gone through something horrific. If anything, we should applaud their efforts to channel their grief and anger into something positive.

If they were our kids, how would we want other people to treat them after going through something like this school mass-shooting?

We need to remember that they are somebody‘s kids. If not as parents, then perhaps as human beings we can stop attacking these brave young people. I think they have been through enough.

At the end of this, we still have serious issues and problems that we need to face and solve as a country. Somewhere inside of us we will need to find civility, tolerance and patience. We will need to work together. I don’t know how we get there from here.

Perhaps we have always been rude and mean to each other; or perhaps we have been infected by the toxic political environment in which we live; or perhaps Mr. Trump’s brazenness and social media’s invisibility cloak have emboldened people to expose who they really are…from preachers without empathy to teenagers with great courage.

These courageous young activists leave me with hope that things will change.

So, I say to them…Lead on.

Martie Hevia (c) 2017 | All Rights Reserved

For more information on how you can help the students and teachers of MSD:

Further Reading:

  1. Heartbreak of Parkland school shooting must bring action | Sun Sentinel Editorial, 2018-Feb-14:
  2. Student who survived Florida shooting pleads with Trump and Congress: ‘Please, take action’ | The Washington Post by Kristine Phillips, 2018-Feb-15:
  3. Statement by President Trump on the Shooting in Parkland, Florida | The White House, 2018-Feb-15:
  4. In the wake of school shooting, follow the money | Sun Sentinel Editorial, 2018-Feb-16:
  5. ‘No more guns!’: Florida students rally to denounce political inaction after 17 killed in school shooting | The Washington Post by Wesley Lowery, 2018-Feb-17:
  6. Advice from a survivor of the Florida school shooting: It’s time to start ignoring Trump | The Washington Post by Alex Horton, 2018-Feb-18:
  7. Parkland High School Shooting Survivor Emma Gonzalez’s Powerful Speech Demanding Gun Control | YouTube, Democracy Now!, 2018-Feb-19:
  8. I Survived the Parkland Shooting. This Is What I Want Everyone to Know | Teen Vogue by Delaney Tarr, 2018-Feb-19:
  9. The lives lost in the Parkland school shooting | The Washington Post Editorial, 2018-Feb-19:
  10. Marches, walkouts and sit-ins: Gun control battle heads to the street |CNN by Susannah Cullinane, 2018-Feb-19:
  11. Will America Choose Its Children Over Guns? | New York Times Editorial Board, 2018-Feb-20:
  12. Right-Wing Media Uses Parkland Shooting as Conspiracy Fodder | The New York Times by Michael M. Grynbaum, 2018-Feb-20:
  13. Parkland Shooting Survivor Sam Zeif’s Emotional Plea at White House | C-Span, 2018-Feb-21 – Video:
  14. Students across U.S. stage walkouts to protest gun violence | Chicago Tribune by Collin Binkley, 2018-Feb-21:
  15. CNN Town Hall Discussion In Wake of the Parkland High School Shooting | YouTube, CNN, 2018-Feb-21:
  16. White House Listening Session on School Gun Violence Following Parkland High School Mass-Shooting | YouTube, Channel 90 TV, 2018-Feb-21:
  17. Trump’s solution to school shootings: arm teachers with guns | The Guardian by David Smith, 2018-Feb-21:
  18. ‘This Is the New Normal Unless We Stop It.’ Teachers Are Fighting for Gun Control After Parkland |Time by Katie Reilly, 2018-Feb-21:
  19. The AR-15 Is Different – What I Saw Treating The Victims From Parkland Should Change The Debate On Guns | The Atlantic by Heather Sher, 2018-Feb-22:
  20. Let the Teachers Teach | New York Times Editorial Board, 2018-Feb-22:
  21. A Guide To March for Our Lives Walkouts on March 24 March on DC – What to Know About March for Our Lives and Other Student-Led Gun Control Protests | Time by Sarah Gray, 2018-Feb-22:
  22. Teachers Are Using #ArmMeWith to Demand They be Armed With Supplies, Not Guns |Time by Eli Meixler, 2018-Feb-23:
  23. I Was a Marine. Now I’m a Teacher. Don’t Give Me a Gun |Time by Debra Ciamacca, 2018-Feb-23:
  24. I Was a Marine. I Don’t Want a Gun in My Classroom |The New York Times by Anthony Swofford, 2018-Feb-24:
  25. Gun Rights vs Gun Control |OpenSecrets – Center for Responsive Politics by Geoff West, 2018-February:
3 Comments leave one →
  1. Give Peace A Chance permalink
    2018-March-21 6:16 PM

    Without guns there would be no shooter problems to begin with.

  2. Francisco permalink
    2018-February-26 4:36 AM

    A good article Martie! Since Columbine, 75% of the school shooters did not have a father living at home. Some blame these mass societal shootings on the breakdown of the family, violently graphic TV, movie, and video games, etc. A developmental-behavioral pediatrician went on to say young people often turn to groups like street gangs precisely because they know adults cant protect them. Since Columbine, this is the 208th school shooting!
    Hopefully, Marjory Stoneman Douglas will mobilize a serious debate and legislative action.
    A long road considering more than 300 million guns are in the country.

  3. Principal-M permalink
    2018-February-25 8:40 PM

    Well-expressed! Very good article!

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