Dear Students of Parkland and Beyond,
Nineteen years ago, a moment changed the landscape of this country forever. I wasn’t in the halls of Columbine, but several states away, watching on my screen as the horror of that April 20th, 1999 unfolded. Though I didn’t know it, the culture was changing – the culture that would be present through my entire adult life to this day.
I wish that I had been an activist. I did speak up against how the blame was placed on outcasts, on kids who dressed in black (I was one of them, asked many times if I planned on hurting anyone after Columbine occurred), and not our outrageous gun culture, almost akin to worship. I couldn’t call myself an activist, though. After all, I had college to think about. My future. It was all so easy to forget because it hadn’t happened to me or anyone I loved. The threat wasn’t as prevalent as it is now.
By the time that Michael Moore released “Bowling for Columbine,” the shooting seemed to be a footnote in history. A tragedy, but past.
But then, another took place. Another. Another. We mourned each and every one as a nation, but…we failed you. You’re right to call us out – I was, like many of you, becoming an adult when this culture of complicity began. I should have done more. I could have done more.
Now, there’s you. You’re brave enough, a WEEK after the horrible event at your school happened, to pick up what we have dropped, to say that enough is truly enough when we should have said so nearly twenty years ago with *one* tragedy. Your screams of anger and betrayal and heartache are heard loud and clear when you call BS on policy and you demand change, because you should. You deserve it. You deserved it before last week, and I’m sorry that we, as a nation, have failed you and so many others. I am ashamed of my country for what we have /not/ done.
In my state, they just passed a bill loosening gun restrictions. I know what just happened in your state. It’s maddening, but if enough people fight, maybe we can win this. After all, isn’t that what we tell you in our stories?
It’s about time we all joined you, through the heartache and the BS, to say #NeverAgain.
You are wonderful. You are brave. You are amazing. You are strong. We should all aspire to be like you.
Shae Carys, Author and Former Teacher