I’ve been absent here for a bit. Part of it was due to finishing up coursework for my AA degree, which I got (with Honors, at that!). Part of it was the usual parts of life that keep us all busy: friends, family, the day job, illness. Another part was focusing on getting things rolling for “The Dead Show,” which is book 3 in my Life After series.
The major issue has been what to say here.
Regarding my books, I have “Dead Vessel” in the hands of my editor, I am currently working on “The Dead Show” and I have at least one other story in in a kind of preproduction status. I have also begun writing articles for Frightmeter.com, of which I am a voting awards committee member. My love of horror runs deep, what can I say?
However, every time I begin to get my thoughts together about these kinds of things, something happens in the world at large that makes my talking about writing seem flimsy, self centered, and willfully ignorant of the world around me. I look at the news every day and the majority of what I see is very worrisome. Every time I think I have found something to talk about, something else happens that seems equally important to discuss.
I know I am supposed to be talking about my works here. I know I am supposed to be “building my brand,” especially since I am an indie author in the process of looking for an agent. I know that being in any way political could damage my chances of finding an agent and could drive away some of the people who would otherwise enjoy my work.
And yet I will persist.
Rather than the circus in Washington which seems to take a great deal of the media’s attention and doesn’t need an armchair quarterback like me commenting on it, I want to talk about Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, and what has happened since Valentine’s Day. Specifically I want to talk about the survivors and the other high school students since that heinous day.
Ignoring the ridiculous claims of “crisis actors,” I want to applaud what the survivors of the horrendous tragedy have done. They have turned their anger and their grief into action. Not only that, their courage and conviction has served to mobilize an army of teenagers across the nation. Teenagers who are normally sneered at by adults for being apathetic, teenagers who are constantly told that they need to be educated about current events and have opinions so that they can actively participate in society.
Now these teenagers have found their voice, their leaders, and a cause to rally behind. However many comments I see on social media attached to the news stories of student walk outs and protests are dismissive. “What do they know? They just want to get out of class,” one commenter says. “What makes them think they get have opinions, or try to make their opinions valid? They’re just stupid kids!” And most damning of all “If they walk out or protest, they should be expelled.”
While these people have the right to express their opinions, I have the right to find these opinions nauseating and without merit. For years we have been telling these kids that they are the future. That if they want to see change in the way things work, they need to be the ones to make that change. That they need to care, they need to get involved. Yet when they do the adults seem only to happy to quickly try to swat them down.
These teenagers are watching their friends die. They are watching family members and the family members of friends die. They are watching one dumpster fire after another happen all around them. I for one am glad they are finally standing up and saying “No more!” Though I mourn the cause for this new found fire, I am thrilled they are becoming activists for the causes that matter to them, causes where they can make a real difference to the society that has been left to them.
I am Gen-X. The Baby Boomers labelled us as lazy and apathetic, and many of us said “Okay, fine, if that’s how you see us, why should we try to be anything else?” This is likely the result of the low voter turnout we keep seeing during elections. We saw the ugly side of money in the yuppies that our parents became. We were forced into not having opinions because those opinions might differ from those of our parents and damage their careers. Life became a numbing tune of watching our parents play at keeping up appearances while being as slick as they could to amass more wealth, more control. We see the money in politics and know that our voice has no meaning unless there are millions of dollars attached to that.
The survivors of Stoneman Douglas High are more than just survivors now. They are warriors. They are leaders. They are mobilizing their peers to take action and to try to overcome the old guard. They are fighting not only for common sense and the betterment of the society around them, they are fighting for their lives. No child should have to worry about being gunned down in school. No teacher should have to be the shield between their students and a hail of bullets.
I am the mother of a high school student and a soon to be high school student. With the protests and the walkouts, I have told both of my children to be as active as they want to be. If they want to participate, just let us know, we support them. I want my children to feel they have a voice, I want them to know we are listening, and most of all I want them to be safe.
I have seen on Facebook a movement that keep kids on school grounds during school hours, but still lets them honor those 17 lives that were lost. Honestly I would like to see more added for the other massacres as well. Sandy Hook, Columbine, and countless others. This movement is called #WalkUpNotOut.
On March 14, encourage students to walk up, not out. Walk up to the kid who sits alone at lunch and invite her to sit with you. Walk up to the kid who sits quietly in the corner, smile and say hi. Walk up to the kid who may be disruptive in class and ask him how he’s doing. Walk up to teachers and school staff and say thank you. Walk up to someone who has different views than you and get to know him/her. Walk up to 14 students and 3 teachers and say something kind. Honor the lives of those lost by walking up, not out. #walkupnotout.
I don’t know who the original poster is, but it is a wonderful idea. That being said, I think it is high time we encourage our children to have voices, to have opinions, and to start to learn how to express them. If you don’t want them walking out of school for 17 minutes, tell them about the above movement. Have them get involved in rallies and protests. Have them learn about candidates in the government, what they stand for, and to question what they see and hear from them.
It’s time to stop telling them they are just kids. It’s time to stop telling them to shut up and sit down. It’s time to start teaching them that their voice matters, that they can make a difference, and it is never too early to start. Most of all it’s time to teach them to rise up and lead for what they believe in now, not wait for some tragedy to hit close to home.
These teenagers are the warriors that will lead us into the future. Do not try to dim their fire.
Until next time, my friends.