It’s Time to Listen to the Kids

 Photo by Clem Onojeghuo  on Unsplash . Photo by Clem Onojeghuo  on Unsplash .

It’s really easy to get stuck in a difficult situation. I don’t mean the situations that are moderately inconvenient. I mean the soul-crushing, life altering situations. Like what happened last week in Parkland, Florida after a man took his AR-15, entered his former school and attacked dozens of innocent students and educators. Seventeen people are now dead, fifteen were injured, the gunman is still alive and the students who survived, didn’t miss a beat. They went to work. The work that elected officials should’ve been doing for years.

It hasn’t even been a week and these kids have already organized, protested and spoken up in ways that cannot be ignored. Without even realizing it, these kids are teaching us adults how to have power in situations where the world would rather see us remain powerless. They’ve shown us how we may be victims of a situation, survivors of an atrocity, but we don’t have to move forward with a victim mentality.

Here are a few ways students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are refusing to stay silent in the wake of what’s happened in their community.

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Senseless Violence

After 5 weeks apart, naturally I got to reunite with my friends this past weekend and it was great, we ate terrible food, gossiped a bit and watched some football. It was all really fun, but there was a point when my friend’s roommate (who none of us are super close with) brought out a gun.

Now, before I continue, let me say this: I believe that guns don’t kill people. Crazy/misunderstood/hurt/angry people with guns kill others. 

I personally am not close friends with this roommate, we know each others names, we say hi and are cordial, we can keep a conversation going, but that’s about it. I don’t check for him, he doesn’t check for me and the world keep spinning.

One thing I do know about him is that he had been in the military and gone to Afghanistan and Liberia, in other words, homeboy has definitely seen some stuff, more than I probably will in my entire lifetime and I respect that. With a best friend in the military who is deploying, I really respect that and he’s actually given me some advice on how to deal with it all too, which I appreciate.

Anyway, when he brought out the gun, my two friends and I immediately jumped back and started freaking out. It just reminded me of my summers in Gary, IN with my grandma when you knew everyone around you was packing, but also were too afraid to ever test the theory. I was scared and in that moment I realized I don’t know this guy, I don’t know all these people that well, this could be the end

It wasn’t until at least 30 seconds to a minute later that the guy opened up the gun and showed us that it wasn’t loaded (I’d like to point out he was on his third bottle of alcohol and it wasn’t even 6 PM). This was also after another guy had pointed it at me while I was sitting next to him on the couch. I was terrified. 

It’s funny, growing up in Fishers, IN I was never afraid of getting assaulted or shot, or robbed or anything like that. That lack of concern tends to happen when you grow up in a town voted safest city 3 years in a row. But I remember my parents always instilling in me not to be so naive, to remember that crime can and will happen anywhere and I don’t think I’m paranoid about it, but I’m very much aware. 

That entire night my friend and I were jumpy, I just legitimately feared for my life in that apartment, I don’t care how crazy that sounded.

Fast forward to yesterday and the Purdue shooting, where a lot of my friends and FHS alumni attend and I’m freaking out, I’m searching their social networking accounts wondering if they were the ones who got shot, looking for answers, screaming on the inside. It became more real, it had happened on a campus in my home state, an hour or so away from my grandma’s house. It was the first time I thought, okay this could happen to me

And now it’s University of Oklahoma and the man (or woman) hasn’t been found yet. Oklahoma, Mizzou rivals, neighboring state, the state my best friend almost went away to for school, the state where so many Missouri friends have loved ones, once again it makes it more real. 

I’m worried that as a society we are becoming desensitized to these shootings. When Columbine happened, it seemed like the entire country mourned, now these things happen and people go about their day, even my friends kind of seemed to shake it off and continue talking about nothing when I texted them. But this has been bothering me since Sandy Hook, since Colorado, since those summers in Gary. Why so much senseless violence? Why aren’t we talking about this more? 

There have been 35 school shootings (now 36) in the past 13 months, how many does there need to be for it to be considered a problem? How many before we just shrug our shoulders, sip our coffee at the breakfast table and turn the channel? It concerns me and I feel like it should concern other students too.

Stop killing the people who are killing others, pick their brains, make them talk, if they killed someone else do you really think they are afraid to die? Possibly, but still. Get answers. Figure things out. Killing is not the answer, it’s not going to solve any of our problems and I just wish I felt like someone who could actually do something about it, would.