Her name is Naomi Wadler; her name is Emma Gonzalez; his name is David Hogg. They are survivors of the Marjorie Stoneham Douglas School shooting. They were joined by a host of children around the country. (for the complete list click here).
These are the children leading. And we would do well to follow them. Amidst cries that “they are too young, they don’t understand, they are so emotional” they are leading. Of course they are too young; children should not be shot at in their classrooms (no one should be shot anywhere). Of course they are emotional; getting shot at tends to do that people. Holding a classmate while she bleeds out on the floor tends to stick in your mind for, say, the rest of your life. Looking into the eyes of someone holding an assault weapon wondering if you are next tends to burn itself into your brain.
While still having nightmares, still having flashbacks, living with and through the trauma; they are leading. Passionate, articulate and calling for action; they are the ones reminding us that we are the adults and it’s our job to fix it.
These young people make me hopeful for our future.
The title for this post comes from Isaiah 11:6 (read the whole verse here). It speaks of a time when there is peace, which is more than the absence of war. The biblical notion of peace is well being for all people and all of creation. Throughout scripture there are references to women, children and the physically infirm as the ones in particular need of care from others. It is code language for the most vulnerable members of society.
The measure of a society’s humanity is how well it cares for the poor and those most in need. Our grade as a nation is rapidly approaching failing. As social programs are being slashed we are sentencing a large part of our society to a life of privation and need.
Congress sent a bill to the Mr. Trump (which he signed) repealing a law that was intended to make it easier to prohibit gun sales to people deemed “mentally defective” by requiring Social Security to provide disability information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. In the meantime mental health programs are being gutted and insurance is paying for fewer and fewer drugs to treat mental illness. Go figure.
The inability of congress to pass any meaningful gun legislation rests in a long history of (many) legislators taking contributions from the NRA. 42 of 50 states have legislators who have taken money from the NRA (click here for list). The numbers are staggering; tens of millions of dollars invested in campaigns to get NRA friendly candidates elected. For example, John McCain has received over 7 million dollars from the NRA over the course of his political career.
This is not an entirely partisan issue. While the majority of legislators receiving money from the NRA are republicans, there a are few Democrats. At a time when we desperately need bipartisan support on many issues, I don’t think selling your soul to the NRA is a good place to start.
As my father says, “Who pays the fiddler calls the tune”. Bought and paid for legislators assure no meaningful gun legislation will be passed. And while we often sit around bemoaning our powerlessness to do anything, nothing could be further from the truth.
Most states have some form of common sense gun legislation working its way through the morass of the political process.
If there isn’t pending legislation, lobby your representatives and senators to begin the process. Get informed. Talk to your representative. If s/he takes money from the NRA, vote for their opponent in the next election. The power of the vote is the single largest contribution we can make to seeing change happen. Entrenched politicians who are beholden to special interest groups like the NRA are not going to rock their comfortable little boats. So it’s up to us to start making waves.