You Can Change the World: A Parkland Movement
In 1970, as a junior in high school, I took to the streets of NYC and Washington and later, Harrisburg, PA, to support the Berrigan Brothers and to protest the war in Vietnam. This particular column is not about the right or wrong of our involvement in Southeast Asia. This was about a movement that happened in America.
It’s February, 2018 and young students are taking to the streets in Florida and around the country to support the students, victims and families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HighSchool and the community of Parkland, Florida. This column is not about the right to own a gun. This is about a movement to say ‘enough’ that is happening in America.
The similarities are the power of youth and its ability to shape and change public opinion.
In the 70’s, I lived in a safe space. It was not until I heard the voices of returning soldiers, who would never be the same, that I understood what I was speaking out for. It was their story.
In 2018, while most of us live in a safe place, Parkland is illuminating the voices of survivors, who will never be the same and it is imperative we understand what they are speaking out for. This IS their story.
The debate of Washington’s inability to agree on anything, regardless of party has gone on for 242 years but if we have learned anything about American citizens taking to the streets and the state and federal chambers to be heard, it is that the voice of youth can change the country.
And now, these high school students are demanding to be heard and like me in 1970, they can change our country.
The nation’s appetite for war in the 70’s sent youth to the streets and is historically credited for ending our involvement.
Our revulsion at senseless killings in Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Charleston, Sutherland Springs, Columbine, Orlando continues and there is a movement beginning that is unstoppable.
Let’s not ignore the voices of the young people in Parkland. I have seen enough comments on social and in the news the past few days from politicians dismissing the anger, frustration and fear of those affected.
Today they are 17. Tomorrow, they will 18. They will vote and they will not be ignored.
This is not about a right to own a gun. This is about the right to be safe in a mall, in a church, at a concert, in a nightclub, in a movie theater and most of all, a school.
The world will never be the same for the students of Parkland and all the towns mentioned above. And in a perverse way, this presents the ideal opportunity as a call to action. The time to say enough is enough.
It’s easy enough to dismiss youth as being inexperienced or being safe in cocoon that their voices are not important. Well, they are no longer safe. Their cocoon has been breached.
This 64-year-old will stand alongside America’s teens and grieving parents as they demand a change to the dangerous free-fall our country is in. I will support them. They are our legacy-and our future- and they will no longer be silent.
Get ready Washington for a new American Revolution.