One of my yoga students walked in to class late that day. On the way out of the studio, she shared that she was delayed because students were marching in honor of lives lost. It was just a few days after the Parkland school shooting; Valentine’s Day 2018, a day marked by heartache.
The police were monitoring traffic to ensure safety. My only path home that day was on Glades Road. I saw that large pack of students who appeared to be returning from a long journey. It was a sea of faces walking across the bridge over 95. I honked my horn in support and they all cheered. And then I began to choke up. I could feel my cheeks getting pink, that burning in my throat and hot tears started to pour down my face.
These are CHILDREN who have seen things they will never un-see. These are the same young people we characterize as being spoiled, addicted to their social media, perhaps uninterested in what really matters. We have even accused some of living off the fumes of their privilege. The bullets that shattered the glass of their classrooms didn’t know who had money and who didn’t. They didn’t know who was black or white or distinguish between old and young. They randomly scattered over all walks of life and their cruel punishment was equally random.
I ache for what these kids are going through and can only imagine how excruciating it is for family members to stand back and watch. It’s as if their childhood has been ripped from them and they had to grow up in an instant. I sobbed in my car on 95. I called Alan who knew I was having one of those moments and he did what he always does; first he listened and then he attempted to inject some humor hoping to create levity.
As the tears started to dry, I marveled at the enormous challenge/opportunity these children are embracing. They aren’t waiting for someone else to handle it. Oprah said it perfectly, “They are like the freedom fighters of the 60’s”. Here was an army of students marching, bound together by an experience that forever changed their world. They were not defined by privilege, race or achievement. They were speaking, or shouting, in this case, their truth. Their hope is that in doing so nobody else will ever walk in their shoes. As I watched them march, I realized it was the perfect parallel to their activism in the aftermath of the MSD shooting. The police were keeping the adults out of the path of these trail blazers; keeping grownups out of the way so the kids could do what needs to be done. We need to let them loose to do their work.
I have read comments on Facebook from people saying that these students don’t even know what they’re protesting. Have you listened to them speak? Have you read what they’ve written? Are you kidding me? They are smart, grounded and focused. I am in awe. I wouldn’t choose one second of the sheer terror they faced last Wednesday. I would take back every moment if it was in my power, but it isn’t. I am a silver lining kind of girl and in that drive by moment, the magic of the moment started to shine.
These kids are going to change the world, as we know it. They are not going to walk in a path others have walked, they are going to pave a new road. I have never been more certain of anything in my life. If you aren’t part of the solution, get out of their way. They are the future of America. You can find them marching on our roads, speaking on behalf of their beliefs or lifting each other up in the wake of insane tragedy; the kind that would bring any person to his knees; the kind that spills out into families and communities and stains permanently. What an honor it is to be a witness to their wherewithal.
They have earned the right to be heard. Their courage is to be commended. Their calm in the midst of chaos is to be acknowledged. I desperately want to be part of the solutions,,yes plural. The crisis our country is currently living is not without layers of complication. We have to face many truths to walk together hand in hand. I flash back to a song I sang at my sixth grade graduation. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.”
That was then, and this is now. Let us all stand back, take a deep breath, and open our hearts and minds to the possibility that we may each have to give to get; that this will only work if we gather together as human beings rather than Democrats or Republicans. Let us dig deep; into our wallets, our schedules, our belief systems and consider what is possible if we gather up our resources. May we give what we have to give. Let us recognize our blessings and offer up grace to those who are struggling. Let us shine our light on those who have forgotten they have their own. And let us heal. That is my hope for us one and all.