Walking the Walk

The high school kids in my town walked out today at 10AM in support of the #neveragain movement. They walked out of the building, protected by police barricades, and into the park. They gathered on the basketball courts by the river.

The day was crisp and cold. The sun was shining and the sky was mostly blue. Some of them held signs that I couldn’t read from my spot across the river. One student began speaking over the microphone, and then passed it to another. At first, I couldn’t make out the words, but then I realized they were reading the names of each person killed in Parkland one month ago today. It was a memorial service, complete with church bells ringing out a tune in the nearby tower.

After they read the 17 names they began reading some statistics on school shootings and gun violence. Statistics that terrify us as parents. Facts of life for these kids.

Almost all of them were born after the Columbine shootings. They have grown up up in a post Columbine, post 9/11 world. They are all too aware of gun violence statistics, and they are well aware of both external and internal terroristic threats. But they are not living in constant fear of being shot, much like we weren’t living in constant fear of nuclear war even though we were made to watch ‘The Day After’ in School, and knew where the fallout shelters were. Much like our parents weren’t constantly in fear of a bomb being dropped on them as they practiced air raid drills.

This is simply their reality. Lock down drills. Shelter in place. Raise your hands. Know your exit routes. Situational awareness.

And they are aware, because they are connected. To everything. Every news item, every world event.

The Parkland shootings may have sparked this walk out. But it is not the only thing on their minds. They have so much on their minds. This walkout is borne of their awareness. And the cumulative effects of awareness have made these children more woke than we could ever imagine ourselves to be. It is their time.

My kids were there in the crowd. Not because they wanted to miss class. Not because it was a cool thing to do. Not because I told them to, because I did not. They walked out because they want to be a part of the discussion. They want their voices to be heard. They want peace, and they want justice. They want a world of human kindness and compassion. They don’t want armed guards in their schools. They want common sense gun laws, and access to mental health reform. They want concrete results. They want legislation.

And they want us all to know that it is their time now.

It’s their time now.

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