I miss the days when I could just relax and write about walks through gardens, snow monuments and dinner plans. So much has changed, so fast, that I can barely keep up with it. Russian election interference, unbelievable corruption in DC, the exposure of sexism and violence against women and – now – the deaths of even more children carried out by unstable people with no apparent protections against their purchase of weapons more suitable for a battlefield than for a city street or building. I’m glad to see that the victims of this violence, the children themselves, are leading a renewed charge against gun violence. At the same time, I’m horrified to realize that the victims themselves are the only ones willing to take a stand against the prospect of their own eventual murder.
I welcome this new demographic to the Resistance, but am appalled that teenagers and not adults are the ones having to carry this torch. I live in a state with very strict gun laws – Massachusetts. After this, our legislators are debating making them even more strict. There have been no mass shootings in my state. There are gun deaths, but nothing on the scale of what’s been happening in places like Florida or Texas.
Until now we’d all become used to the regular reports of shootings in this place or that place. Like many, I sighed and shook my head. I hoped things would start to change in November, at the commencement of mid-term elections. Then these teenagers stepped onto the scene, crying enough! even as tears ran down their cheeks. I watched Emma Gonzales, one of the survivors of the recent Florida high school shooting, giving a speech at an anti-gun rally. I suddenly realized that this time was different. This time people were standing up to the NRA and to the politicians who placed their lives in danger every single school day. She called out Trump especially, as a major recipient of NRA funding and as someone who’s doing nothing to address the overwhelming prevalence of guns in this country. Nobody wrote that speech for her. It came from her gut and she had to step several times during its presentation to wipe tears from her eyes.
Kids shouldn’t have to do this. They shouldn’t be facing possible execution every time they enter a classroom at school. The gun industry and their supporters, the NRA and gun-friendly legislators in DC and in the states where these things happen are responsible for this.
Boston will have a rally on Saturday, March 24 to stand against gun violence. I plan to go. I feel it’s necessary, in the same way I felt that attending the Women’s March last January was necessary.
Baby boomers may remember the demonstrations and sit-ins of the 1960s and early 1970s. This moment in time reminds me of those days, only these days are deadlier. A few days ago I assembled a playlist of songs from that time. I was a teenager in those days and a very different person. One of the songs, “Ohio,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young resonates on a number of levels. Look up the Kent State shootings on Google. The Ohio National Guard opened fire on a group of unarmed anti-war protesters, killing four and wounding others. On the one hand, its a catchy song by a band whose music I still really like. On the other hand, my first reaction to hearing it for the first time after all these decades was, “only four? Wow. That wouldn’t headline the news these days.”
Listen to this song and substitute teenage bodies on the ground. Or elementary school students. Or college kids. Replace the soldiers with alienated and angry shooters, armed to the teeth with legally-obtained weapons. Then, with the protesters, raise your fist and say, “No!”
And march. Students are organizing marches throughout the country. Do your goddamned duty, grown-up America, and stand with them.
Four dead in Ohio. 17 dead in South Florida. 20 dead at Sandy Hook. 58 dead in Las Vegas. 27 dead in Sutherland Springs. Do I need to list them all?