When I was a kid, I played by the rules. I colored (badly) within the lines, I did what I was told (for the most part), I did not stray from my playbook. I was a very disciplined child, I did an intense sport for most of my life. Following the rules was second nature to me, it wasn’t something I questioned often. Growing up, I was told the horrors of the world. My mother had worked overseas in war zones, my father had been drafted into the military when he was a young man. The brutal inhumanity that happened –and continues to– all around the world was not kept hush hush in our household. It terrified me. I was a twelve years old fearing terrorist attacks and nuclear threats, when I really just wanted to live in the safe little bubble most children in other families lived in. That bubble did not exist in my life. There was no opportunity to be naive, no option to look away. I went to my mother one day, and asked her how she could live in a world where so many scary things could happen. Why wasn’t she afraid of dying. She looked me in the eyes and said “honey, you could be killed crossing the street. Are you going to let that stop you?”
I am tired of being afraid. There is so much fear in our world, it runs through the very veins of our society. It rules us, pushing forward to a world so controlled, it’s chaos. We are told to be afraid. We are told that out neighbors, our classmates, our friends, could be enemies. We are told to trust no one. We are breeding fear through ignorance, through inaction. Tragedies occur, we send thoughts and prayers, and then do nothing. Thoughts and prayers are wonderful, but they don’t do shit. As a student, I am supposed to feel safe in school. I do not. I am afraid because it would be so easy for someone to walk into a classroom, switch off the safety, and empty a clip of bullets into my friends, my classmates, myself. We, as a society, have made this possible. The fault lays with us, the blood, the blood of every student, of every child that has lost their lives in these horrific realities, paints our hands. We are to blame.
I am tired of being afraid. I am tired of being too scared to do something. Fear can be immobilizing, but it doesn’t have to be. We can make it mobilizing. We can choose to use the fear that we feel in every inch of our skin, and use it to create action. We can use this fear to make sure that future generations never have to feel the brands it burns onto our souls. Take action. March. Walk out. Sign a petition. Call your senator. Make you voice heard. We have been submissive for too long. There is a stigma behind this issue, a partisan stigma. Hear me when I tell you, this is not a political issue. There are no politics behind whether or not children should be allowed to learn in peace, or if they should suffer the devastation and loss that comes with school shootings. This is a social issue. This is an issue of life and death. There are no politics here, there doesn’t get to be.
After the Parkland tragedy occurred, I came to a realization. I told my friend, someone who is deeply affected by mass shootings and their aftermaths, that this one was going to be different. She asked me why I thought so. The answer is simple, the survivors were not going to be quiet. It only takes a spark to kindle the fire of a revolution, and those teens, some only a year younger than me, are that spark. They are speaking out. They are demanding change. They are taking action. They will change our future, by refusing to submit to the present.
The wind has changed. There is a fight coming, and it is long overdue. Thoughts and prayers be damned. Get up. Scream. Shout. March. Walk out. Refuse to be silenced. The fight for our lives begins now.
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