School Shootings. Can we deal with them yet?

Oh, my goodness. I just can't. This whole walking out thing has really instigated an either/or that doesn't need to exist.

 There's been real concern that younger generations aren't involved in government/politics and now they're doing it, but because it goes against what people agree with, it's a bad thing. At least they're doing something (emphasis on the something).

 If kids decided not to walk out that's fine, too, because they're choosing to stay in SCHOOL. Why get mad at that.

 If they chose to be a little kinder to their peers and "walk up," good on them. We could use more kindness in the world.

 If they walked out just because they wanted to get out of class for a few minutes, maybe they learned or experienced something of importance in the process. Maybe the mental break was just helpful. School is stressful and hard. I'm not too old to forget that.

 If they were doing the Tide Pod Challenge a month ago, and are now walking out as part of a movement, I'd say this is some kind of improvement. (BTW there were 86 reports of misuse of pods by teens in January, source TIME, let's round up to 100 for the month and assume that number stayed the same for February and March, that's 300. Compare that to the ONE MILLION estimated kids who walked out, source The Wall Street Journal. The number of kids doing the challenge is just a small fraction of the demographic, so I move that we all stop using that to undermine teens speaking up.)

 Please just take a beat, and find the teaching moment in this movement — instead of searching for the negative. If kids walked out without school sanction, they learned about consequences. If they walked out and the school organized it, they learned that their voices can be heard — so make it count. If they walked out to take a moment of silence for other murdered kids, they learned reflection. If they walked out because they want gun control changes, they learned about the Bill of Rights. If they didn't walk out because they don't want to see gun control changes, they learned about the Bill of Rights. If they walked out because they want the adults of this country to figure out some way that they don't have to be afraid of getting shot while in school, regardless of how it's ultimately handled, they learned to stand up for themselves.

 If they learned nothing, that's on us, adults. If we're too busy arguing about whether or not they should be walking out or if they're qualified to be dealing with gun issues, then we missed the fact that many did walk out. One million children and teens. We missed the students who chose not to stay in the classroom. We missed the kids who decided to spread kindness. No matter what they decided to do or not do, there was a teaching opportunity at that moment, and we missed it.

 I'm not a parent. I'm not a teacher. I'm also not a politician or a government official. But if I was any of those things, I'd like to think my response would be, "I hear you. I want you to be safe, too. We will figure this out. Far too many kids have died this way."

 That said, I am a voter and they are my fellow citizens, and I want them to know that I'm glad they're involved. Don't stop being involved. Keep going. Educate yourself. Question everything. Talk to people from all backgrounds. Develop your own opinions and empower yourself with knowledge, understanding, and empathy. Just keep learning. It is a lifelong pursuit after all.

No comments: