Time for change

When I was in fifth grade, all I wanted to be was a high schooler. I fell within the High School Musical generation, where high school was about discovering who you are and who you want to be. Every Friday night I’d sit in the KHS bleachers. I felt the bright gymnasium lights on my face, I smelled popcorn and heard my older brother’s name echo as the announcer called his stats. I sat, imagination clouding my light blue eyes, as I envisioned walking the halls of KHS. Would I play a sport? Join a club? Have lots of friends? Never once did I question what I do now: will I be shot by a classmate?

I opened YouTube after getting home, only to see live footage being streamed of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as students evacuated after their former classmate, Nikolas Cruz, began shooting students and faculty Feb. 14. In light of the tragedy the nation is waking up, it took the 25th fatal school shooting since Columbine in 1999, according to USA Today. The students of Marjory Stoneman, the students who just lost 17 of their classmates and mentors, those students are fighting to keep another school massacre from happening again. These students are calling for action from elected officials, students and every citizen. For change. After seeing the coverage, I yelled downstairs to my mom telling her there had been another school shooting. In hindsight, the way I addressed the situation saddens me. The way my tone reflected my words. Not surprised or horrified or panicked, just disappointed. It wasn’t a shock to me. They never are anymore. Later that evening, it dawned on me I have been desensitized to the point of recognizing it’s only a matter of time before the next group of kids dies. I cried myself to sleep after that.

It’s not hard to recognize we have a problem in the U.S. When more mass shootings have occurred than presidents have served, it becomes blatantly obvious our gun laws aren’t doing what they’re supposed to, protect people. It has gotten to the point where our politicians are asked questions about gun control and they recite the same answer each time. More so, people are becoming puppets for their political party, facing every issue with a practiced version of their party’s handbook. This pattern isn’t only present with gun violence, but every other societal issue that has been brought up. People are presenting their opinion as the only one of significance. When did a political label become more important than making our own decisions. Why do liberals have to be anti-gun and conservatives pro? It has becomes a bloody clash of ignorance resulting in the same vicious cycle claiming more and more lives.

The selfishness many adults, many parents, have shown following the death of 17 innocent humans astounds me. Why do people stomp on the graves of victims of gun violence because they have an itch to win an argument with someone of another political party? We should be using this time to address this recurring scenario by embracing one another to work to protect the lives of the next generation. The self-centeredness of human beings as they trivialize death to they can spit out an “I told you so,” to try and prove their point when the next shooting happens, disgusts me. The superiority complex so many seem to have nowadays, is the real problem. Our largest issue isn’t gun control, or mental illness or the lack of security in our schools. It is the bigotry we carry.

We all have the same goal. We want children and teachers to be safe from violence at schools. There is no logical reason for everyone to be so nasty toward one another in the wake of tragedy. I’m tired of the Facebook fights, and the name calling on Twitter. They accomplish nothing. If we revert to pointing the finger at one another every time something horrific occurs then nothing, nothing, will ever change. I’m sick of teenagers being called childish because they are the only ones unstubborn enough to recognize the fact this isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s an issue that has been created by each and every one of us. People will keep dying. People are still dying. It’s not just due to an inactive government, it’s due to an inactive human race.

The conversation can’t end. We must keep talking about this, and rather than argue we need to establish that we are all fighting for the same goal, no more preventable deaths in schools. To make this a reality we need to compromise. I urge anyone and everyone to keep talking, keep calling your representatives, keep fighting for our right to live. People can buy weapons easier than they can get a new driver’s license, that people can buy guns without going through training or mental evaluations. That is not okay. To own a firearm is an extreme  responsibility, and should be treated as such. It’s our job to protect the lives of ourselves and future generations, and for that I’m prepared to fight.