It’s time to stand with our children and grandchildren! No matter which side of the gun debate you’re on, there’s a desperate need for critical thinking and moral leadership in America when it comes to our kids’ safety. Students across America possess the fortitude and will to make lawmakers hear them—and these young people are speaking out. But it may not be enough. To sustain their enthusiasm, energy, and vision for a better, safer future—and effect meaningful change—they need us to stand with them.
Our children and grandchildren are watching us! They’re waiting to see whether we will lapse into complacency, closed-mindedness, and a state of benign neglect . . . or rise up with them.
I will stand with these future leaders on March 24 when they speak out in Washington and in cities across our great nation. I will continue to join hands with policymakers in our government and business communities who refuse to turn their backs on the unique opportunity that lies before us. And I will summon the will for social change and fight the good fight with every breath I have left in me.
Back in 2003, when I was compelled to help kids and their parents find a safe refuge in the aftermath of Columbine, I wrote a book called How to Talk to Your Kids About School Violence. I hoped that chapters such as “Your Child’s Violence Prevention Toolbox” and “What’s Being Done to Create Safe Schools?” could bring more parents to the table. It did, briefly, and then most people seemed to lapse back into inaction. The savage murder of 26 innocent students and teachers at Sandy Hook was not enough to bring elected officials, community leaders, and advocates for violence prevention together to actually do something to make kids and schools safer.
Having suffered the loss of my 21-year-old daughter, and having been on the front lines of unspeakable tragedies including 9/11 and Sandy Hook, I’ve sunk to the depths of despair. I know what it’s like to have your heart ripped out, to get up in the morning after your child’s life has ended and realize your own life as you knew it is over as well. Rising out of the ashes of my daughter’s death, searching for ways to honor her, I decided to devote my life to helping bereaved families from my own community, around the US, and across the world.
Working with the parents whose beautiful children died at Sandy Hook has been one of the great honors of my life. Surely, the unspeakable horrors of small children being slaughtered, and the inconsolable pain of their parents, would inspire action to be taken by lawmakers. How could a tragedy of this magnitude not be the impetus for Americans to finally address gun violence, mental illness, background checks, school security, and so on? Well, it’s almost unbelievable that not even the massacre of little children didn’t effect change—but it didn’t!
The ability to sustain empathy, and the resources to go up against powerful political and economic forces like the NRA, just wasn’t there. Like many Americans, I felt pessimistic about the possibility that anything would ever be done.
That all changed three weeks ago in the aftermath of another unspeakable tragedy. An unlikely group of high school students in Florida came out of nowhere, rose up, spoke out, and awakened our nation, much as it was awakened in the ’60s by the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam. Our children and grandchildren took to the streets—boldly and articulately—and made us proud.
Last year’s Women’s March on Washington was unprecedented. An uprising of women in our great nation lifted us to higher ground. Nature abhors a vacuum—and there was definitely a vacuum of moral leadership to be filled.
As our kids rise up and take their place in society, refusing to be talked down, and demanding accountability from the powers that be, we need to stand with them. I’m seriously thinking of updating and reissuing my book from 2003 with a new title: How to Listen to Our Kids When It Comes to Preventing School Violence.
Now is the time to let these young people know that their fellow students didn’t die in vain. This time . . . we simply can’t wallow in inaction and complacency!