The March For Our Lives happened this past weekend on March 24 in Washington DC, with over 800 sibling marches held across the US and the world. I didn’t attend the local march in Orlando for three reasons: one, it was my wife’s birthday this weekend; two, I had family visiting from out of state for said birthday; and three, I actually had no idea the march would be happening. While the first two reasons would’ve precluded my participation this weekend anyway, the third one constitutes a failure on my part to be informed.
Most people would just wave it away, not a big deal, easily explained by being busy with other matters. But it bothers me because I’m making a concerted effort to be more aware of current events without getting overwhelmed by the tsunami of 24/7 news, and obviously this significant story flew past me. From a technical standpoint, it only means that I need to tweak the process I use to gather news. When looking at the bigger picture, however, it also means that, to use the lingo, I’m not as woke as I’d like to be, as I need to be.
Understand, I am 100% behind the March For Our Lives and gun control, especially because I find it admirable and inspiring that this movement is being spearheaded by students, be they the survivors from the Parkland school shooting, or the thousand other students who have joined in support. When these kids walked out of class on April 14 in remembrance of the Parkland shooting victims, and indeed of every school shooting victim, I applauded them, even as people fabricated controversy around the act trying to frame it as misguided or making it about blaming the victims. Heck, if my daughter had been of age, she would’ve had my full support to join the walkout.
But I need to be honest and accept to myself and to these kids rising up that I have failed them. While I may have been an idealist in my teens and early 20s, that quickly gave way to jadedness, apathy, and inaction. I deluded myself into thinking that voting was enough to discharge my duty towards progress and equality. Eventually, I convinced myself that activism was a young person’s activity; I just wanted to live my life, deal with my own struggles, as best as I could. I grumbled, I got indignant, and then I went back to my own world. Then my daughter was born, and everything changed.
To quote from a story at Yahoo News that perfectly illustrates what I’m saying:
They were three generations of women, up from Harrisonburg, Va., for the March for Our Lives. Jan, the grandmother, held up a sign that said: “My generation failed them.”
“My generation failed them too,” read the sign by the mother, Becky
And the granddaughter, Amy: “My generation will fix this.”
(see the first photo at the Yahoo News story)
Kids, I let you down. I am so sorry.
As I watch my daughter grow, the brutal reality of the gun violence epidemic, especially mass school shootings, hits me right in my heart. I cannot imagine—I don’t want to imagine—sending my little girl to school one day and then having her ripped from me by some asshole with a gun. The weekend after Parkland I couldn’t hold my daughter enough, and I wept for those parents that would never hold their kids again. I can’t keep my daughter locked in the house forever, as much as I’d like to sometimes, so the next best thing is to strive for, to support, to work towards policy changes that will give her the best chance at safety in this world.
So, sorry that I wasn’t at the march this weekend. I honestly can’t promise I’ll be at all other marches that come after, but it won’t be because I fail to be informed. Please don’t let the rampant ignorance being spewed by those threatened by your passion and energy stop you. Push on, push forward, push hard, and know I’m here to support you, we’re all here to support you, be it by sharing with people why we need gun control now, countering the ignorance and hatred coming from special interest groups and their cronies, pestering my regional and national politicians, and being physically present whenever possible to add my voice to the chorus wanting change.
Consider me from here on a march of one for your lives, for my daughter’s life, for all our lives. May we meet at some demonstration in the future and march together to achieve our mutual goals.