|17 chairs set with flowers to |
represent those killed in Parkland
That was the extent of my worries back then. As it should be for eleven, twelve and thirteen year olds.
But today? Today I stood amidst 1800 middle school students who are concerned they are going to be shot and killed on their campus. They're concerned their friends might be shot and killed. They're concerned that they'll lose the people they love because all around them people are losing the people they love.
The middle school Angela works at is a representation of the best and the worst of Los Angeles, of California, of America, of our world. Of the 1800 kids who walk through those doors every day, some don't speak English well, some don't have two parents at home, some are taking college classes, some have celebrity parents and are being taught they should get special treatment because of that, some are Christians, some are Muslims, some sit down during the Pledge of Allegiance, some are transgender, some are citizens of foreign lands, some live in big sprawling estates, some share a bedroom with multiple siblings, some are sweet and kind, some have chips on their shoulders, some cry at the drop of a hat, some fight like they're in the ring every day.
But today? On this bright Friday morning in April? They all had one thing in common. They all wanted to be safe. They all expected to be safe. Because they were at school.
But that's not a given anymore. That's not a given anywhere in our country. And these kids, they know that. They know about gun violence and the horrors that surround that. All too intimately. I didn't know a thing about guns growing up. My grandfather hunted but that's all I knew. I knew I didn't like venison but I ate it. That was enough.
These kids today, they stood up and they spoke. They read speeches they'd written. They held signs they'd painted. They spoke from the heart about wanting the people in charge to be better, do better. They spoke of Congress and working for common sense gun control. They know so much more than I did at their age. And that breaks my heart.
The world is so much different today than it was when I was in middle school. It's bigger and at the same time, smaller. We know so much more, for better and for worse. And we have so much more influence.
These kids. They have influence. They have voices. They reminded me today to have an opinion and to share it. To use my voice. To not fall into the trap of believing I can't change the world. We all can, whether we're twelve or forty or eighty. As President Obama wrote about the kids speaking up from Parkland, Florida, in this week's issue of Time Magazine:
Our kids now show us what we’ve told them America is all about, even if we haven’t always believed it ourselves: that our future isn’t written for us, but by us.Our future is written by us. All of us. We have the agency to enact thought. To enact action. To enact change. We all do. Kids and adults alike. Thank you, JB Bears, for reminding me of that this morning.
|The leadership team who created the event|