To those young people who lived through the slaughter that was the Parkland shooting and vowed this will be the last time any school endures this: stick with it.
I hope you march on Washington next month, like many of you promise. I hope you inspire others to march in cities around the state and country.
I hope the raw passion of your words will be enough to shame the shameless sellouts who masquerade as lawmakers but are really just paid billboards for the National Rifle Association. That will be much harder than you think. These people are good at giving you a comforting hug with one hand while taking NRA cash with the other.
Those people don’t believe you will follow through.
They think after the echo of the bullets that flew through the halls and classrooms at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School subsides, most of you will return to a life of disengagement.
They think most of you will eventually get discouraged when lawmakers ignore and patronize you. Despite all their “thoughts and prayers” in this time of unfathomable tragedy, they don’t take you seriously enough to do something about the problem of too many guns.
That’s because they don’t believe that all these guns are a problem.
Prove them wrong.
They didn’t know your friends and teachers who were murdered. They probably weren’t paying attention to the rallies you attended in the aftermath of the killing. They were trying to figure out how to turn this tragedy to their advantage, or at least contain the political fallout.
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
President Donald Trump used the occasion to turn the focus on himself by blaming the FBI for investigating Russian trickery in the last election while fumbling clear signs that Nicklas Cruz was getting closer every day to inflicting horror on you and the nation.
While you were holding candlelight vigils and preparing to attend funerals, he was tweeting about Oprah Winfrey.
Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2018
Think about that.
Many of you aren’t old enough yet to vote, but those who can should register and absolutely make your voice heard at the ballot box. And everyone should learn how the process works.
Learn the names and views of your state lawmakers — the ones who go to Tallahassee and keep voting to expand what is ironically called “gun rights.” They are the ones who want more guns in our state, not fewer. They don’t seem to care about the rights of those being shot in situations like what you just endured.
Learn who represents you in Congress. There is a wealth of information available online about how these people vote and who gives them money. Learn it, share it, and make your friends understand they have to care about this.
Rallies and vigils are fine, but the best way to fix the culture is to change the names and faces of those who make the laws.
You have vowed to make sure things will be different in the future, and I hope you do. The adults have certainly made a big enough mess of things. The anguish so many of you shared in the last week is evidence that you want change.
You deserve at least that much.
The adults who want to hold on to power are playing politics with a tragedy — your tragedy. Show them they’re wrong. Flood them with letters, protests, and the like.
Look up what happened in the 1960s, with the Vietnam War. A steady barrage of student-led protests against a useless slaughter of young Americans in a pointless conflict finally made a difference. Keep at it.
You can make a difference too.
After Parkland, America needs you to do just that.