To kids choosing to walk out on Wednesday 3/14/18:
First, I love that you’re aware enough to want to do SOMEthing. You saw an event that occurred miles away from you and yet you didn’t shrug it off as something that isn’t your problem – great choice.
It’s also tremendously admirable of you to want to honor the lives lost with a moment of silence. Everyone’s life matters. Thanks for noticing and honoring that. Stepping out of the crowd to say, “hey, I care about this” isn’t easy.
Now, that’s where my praise of the walk-out choice ends.
What is the end goal of the walkout? I am so curious about WHY you’re choosing a walk-out as your action? What is your hope? What is the goal? I have yet to hear just WHY leaving classrooms across the nation is the best idea for facilitating change.
If the goal of the walkout is awareness – letting school officials, teachers, parents, legislators, etc. know that this is a problem that warrants attention – this is already abundantly clear. No one will challenge that. Stay in class.
If the goal of the walkout is to ask for change – you are in good company there, too. I don’t know anyone in the aforementioned groups of adults who would raise their hands and honestly say, “yeah, school shootings are just a given, they’ll just keep happening. Whudderyagunnado?” Your leaving class won’t drive that point further home.
If the goal of the walkout is trying to pinpoint who to blame – well, I’m disappointed in our teaching of you. It’s easy to pick a group, an individual, or a situation that is to blame for any situation. It’s easy to say, “hey adults, we as minors are powerless to make a change.” Blaming individuals, groups, or the elusive “THEY” (They should do something. They need to make more laws. They need to keep us safe) solves nothing and in this situation, there simply aren’t enough fingers to accurately point in all the directions of culpability. Stay put.
If the goal of the walkout is to come together to identify what EACH of us can do to affect change – I’m in. All in. I’ve yet to hear individuals speak about their own personal responsibility in the matter. (Wait, WHAT? I wasn’t there. Not my school. I’m not a shooter!) Personal responsibility is about taking individual action.
What can we do?
Whether you choose to walk out or not – I challenge each of us to take personal responsibility and #doSOMEthing –
- Be aware of our surroundings and relationships – help others know that they matter
- Take threats and drills seriously and inform others of possible threats
- Practice vigilant kindness – give kindness especially when kindness might not be due. Hard to love folks need extra helpings.
- Watch with our eyes open, noticing rather than judging with our minds and tongues
- Listen with our hearts, not just our ears, for the important things unspoken. Check them out for truth.
Drive Community-Wide Change
Next, if you want to dive deeper and create community-wide change –
- Research the statistics about the past shootings, the shooters’ motives, states of minds shooters’ connections to the schools
- Read perspectives you might not have heard or might not agree with
- Research community programs that have been successful in reducing community violence
- Observe patterns to inform our actions going forward
- Then, educate others about what you find and help each other to take action. Each of us can #doSOMEthing.
Lastly, don’t settle for “I’m just a kid – what can I affect?” You have the power to do amazing things. Choose well.