Musings & Threads. Our Children.
Social Commentary. Our Children.
Today is a momentous occasion. Our children are raising their voices in the March for our Lives movement. They are demanding to be seen and heard. I feel proud. I feel sad. I feel angry.
We have made and maintained the policy on Hummingbird to keep politics off limits, finding that at this time, views are so polarized (and passionate), and that’s not really what the blog is about. Yet, at the same time, we feel a responsibility to express viewpoints that enhance our understanding of the world we live in, and possibly how it can be better. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent, or any combination of these “persuasions.” The issue is not partisan. Our children deserve to go to school to learn, be challenged, have friends, have fun…not to worry about being shot or if “today will be their last day.” Their cell phones shouldn’t be used for calls to their parents and siblings to say, “Good-bye. I love you.”
When I was in elementary school, we had two kinds of drills, “Air Raid” and “Fire.” For the Air Raid drills, we had to scramble into position under our desks. Fat chance this would have helped us really. But preparedness was key. Even as a child, after the initial alarm for the reason, after the first one or two, we all robotically went through the motions, while our thoughts ran elsewhere, filling up the “boring” minutes of this already deemed useless exercise. It was useless not only because it physically probably was, but because it seemed so implausible! After about 10 of these with no bombs in sight, it just seemed unlikely to happen.
Today, in our schools, the threat of gun violence, of being shot, is real. It has happened. Many, many times---too many times, recognizing that one time is too many. The image selected for this piece was very deliberate… I didn’t want to show children and their parents marching, I wanted to show what school life should be like. Filled with joy and anticipation. Learning and friendships.
I am proud that our children are raising their voices to be heard, and not remaining silent. I am proud that they are demanding that they feel safe, not safe by drills and armed teachers, but looking for--demanding--ways to eliminate the threats to their safety that are inarguable. I am proud of the children that are marching in D.C. and in cities and towns across the country, and in other countries, London, Paris, Tokyo, Madrid, Copenhagen. They are truly marching for their lives, and the lives of other school children.
I feel sad that this is what our world has come to. I am sad that these students’ preparedness drills cannot be the “big yawn” of the drills of my childhood, which were subsequently disbanded. I am sad that a parent should worry about their child’s safety when they send them off to school, rather than their academic learning. This is not the lesson for our time, is it? How do you tell your child, “Don’t worry. Have a great day at school today!” Do you hug them before they leave, extra tight, just in the event that danger lurks where we have promised them they will be safe?
I am angry that we all can’t come together to resolve this immediately. That it will be a drawn out process of negotiations. That our children’s safety is in any way negotiable. Shame. Shame. Shame.
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Martin Luther King Jr.