Over the weekend, I watched the coverage of the March for Our Lives that took place in Washington D.C. last Saturday. The schoolchildren’s remarkable civic engagement stirred up a number of emotions within me. The purpose of the march reminded me of my young nephew, “Little Craig,” who was senselessly killed in a shooting nearly 20 years ago.
“Little Craig” was around the same age as many of the students who spoke at the march. Other than family and friends, his death was not known to the general public. He was relegated to being a mere statistic, like many others before and after him who experienced a similar fate.
Over the years, as mass shootings seemingly have become more commonplace, there have been public outcries that eventually faded away with little, or at best incremental, progress.
But something feels profoundly different this time. The energy is palpable. There is a fearless spirit that is manifesting from these teenagers. It is showing up as “Soul Force” that is inherent within them. And they are bringing others along.
It is as if they have taken to heart, and are putting into practice, these words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. … This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
As I observed the emerging generation who were part of the march, I noticed that the students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida invited students from communities very different from their own to be part of the movement. They intentionally went to communities where students are also affected by gun violence, but don’t get the media coverage that Parkland received.
The young activists who spoke to the crowd came from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Somehow, they realized they are inherently interconnected and they can never be all they can be unless everyone is all they can be. Moreover, the Parkland students realized they have been afforded privileges others do not have. If they are to live in the world their hearts envision, they must do their part to ensure that others have the same opportunity to have their voices heard.
The Parkland students seem to intuitively know their cause not only crosses racial, ethnic, cultural and class lines, but that it affects all of us. If collective humanity is to be lifted up, no one can be left out.
It feels as though we are at a tipping point for genuine transformation. At the end of the program, the granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr. came to the stage and led the crowd in a chant: “Spread the word! Now you heard! All across the nation! We are going to be! A great generation!”
I believe she spoke prophetic words. This time is different. It renews my hope. I, for one, am with them.
Peace and Blessings,