I was fortunate to participate in the "March For Our Lives" rally this past weekend. The emotion and energy of the people was palpable. And the speakers.... wow! Most of the speakers were teenagers and amazingly eloquent. They were focused on clear objectives. Is this a moment in our nation's history or will it be the beginning of a sustained movement? Only time will tell. Judging by the passion of the student leaders, I hope this results in some meaningful change.
Later that day, I was reminiscing about the rally with a friend, who is a Preschool teacher. The discussion veered towards guns, gun violence and impact of the same on young children.
"We practice "Active shooter" drills once a year for students," she said.
"In your school?" I was shocked.
"Yes, in my school. And my students are 4 and 5 year old kids," she said.
Images of 4 and 5 year-old kids, in all their innocence, hiding under tables and closets immediately flashed through my mind. It was an extremely distressing thought.
The same evening, my wife and I attended a First Birthday celebration for our friend's daughter. As I looked at the angel-like birthday girl, my brain warped back to the afternoon conversation. In 2-3 years, would this sweet little girl be practicing "Active shooter" drills in her school too? The mere thought made me nauseous.
I might be wrong, but I think we are the only developed country in the world, where kids have to go through "Active shooter" drills, starting from Preschool. You think that should be the normal way of life for 4-5 year olds, in any community, society or country?
Social activism is born when a perceived injustice has gone beyond a certain tolerance point. No wonder one of the slogans of these young crusaders is "Enough is Enough." These young students have started something. They are not politicians or lobbyists. They have no ulterior motive, except one. They just want to be afraid of only their grades and Algebra when they go to school, not bullets. But they will need help and support to sustain this movement.
We are at such a place in our country at this time, that the question these days is not if a mass shooting will happen again, but when and where. When a society deems it "normal" to have "Active Shooter" drills for preschoolers, something is terribly wrong.
When social issues are at stake, we must always choose sides.
"Neutrality always helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented" ~ Elie Wiesel