Monday, February 19, 2018

it's up to the kids

I remember where I was and what I was doing when I found out about the Columbine shooting. My boyfriend (now husband) and I were checking out a fitness club we were thinking of joining in Oakland, and we were getting a tour of the facilities. There was a television on over a group of treadmills, and I could see that there was something very wrong happening on the screen. There were kids jumping out of what looked like a school building, and that building did not appear to be on fire. Other groups of kids seemed to be running for their lives, flanked by police and people in SWAT gear. I stood there, watching the TV, while I slowly started to absorb the information, this event that had taken place just a few hours before.

The horror and diabolical nature of that shooting has stayed with me all these years, as it has for many. The mass shootings have continued, gaining in velocity and violence, with shooters seemingly using Columbine as a point of reference. Our societal response has taken on an equally horrifying and repetitive nature. An iconography of grief and outrage, familiar to all, played by our media for consumption and diversion.

The result is a peculiar numbness that has taken hold. It comes from the lack of change in our system while all indicators point to an overwhelming need for change. It's a system that has ground to a halt when it comes to addressing the realities of violence and guns in the United States.

I don't know what it is about the shooting that just happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but I felt it right away this event could shift the dynamic, that an opportunity may have been created. The only people who have any moral authority in this situation to force some kind of change are the kids who have been affected by school shootings.  They are smart enough-- kids today are so damn smart-- to realize the grownups aren't doing their jobs, and haven't been for a while. The people in charge have given up and given away their power, to corporations, to lobbies, to anyone who promises to help them keep their jobs. It's the kids who have to lead.

I hope we are at the beginning of a major youth revolt. All of the pieces are in place: the adults who are running things are out of step with the younger generation on just about every issue that matters, and they are making decisions that risk the future. The young people know it. They are equipped to do something about it, and I believe they will be formidable. Their passion and level of articulate rage puts to shame the one-dimensional, paper thin assurances of our governing bodies that they will consider change. I don't think it's up to them anymore, they have already lost everything that matters. It's up to the kids.