Students Set an Example of Integrity in Face of Gun Violence

Last Friday, a colleague’s son was in lockdown at his high school in Austin, Texas. He was sitting against the wall with his peers in pitch dark. No one moved or talked. Later he relayed his thoughts to his mother — “I was nervous but not scared. If it comes down to it, I’ll take action. I won’t go quietly crouched along a wall. I’ll help others.” He is sixteen, making adult choices he shouldn’t have to make. We have left our children to deal with the fallout of our society not coming together to protect them.

Parkland, Florida was the site of yet another horrific, deadly shooting with yet another military-style weapon at yet another American high school. These devastating events feel like they are becoming the tragic norm. Yes, the world changes, but some changes are unacceptable. Now a fresh lineup of pundits and politicians with feeble rationale elbow their way into the spotlight. Students sit by enormously frustrated, waiting for lawmakers to come up with a real solution. They wait and wait. They have waited long enough.

The time has come for lawmakers to act decisively. We have failed our children, and they have told us so. Now they are stepping up to take charge. They are holding rallies, protests and town halls, often in the face of ridicule and harassment. Their speeches are sincere, intelligent and astute. They demonstrate immense courage. It is humbling to watch them move forward, take charge and make their voices heard. This is how it all begins, a movement that shapes the future.

These students are not standing on the shoulders of giants, they are the giants themselves. They have the ambition to forgo excuses and create positive change for their future. They have the determination to accomplish what we as a society have been unable to accomplish — to create a safe environment. We must listen with open minds, encourage them and support them. These brave hearts, bright minds and hopeful individuals are already leading the way. This is their world now.