Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief
Yes, I have an opinion on gun laws. No, that’s not what this op-ed is about. Because no matter what I say, people will get mad. I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers, because that’s not my job. But I am going to talk about what I see happening right now in this country.
I was three-years-old when the Columbine shooting happened, and, growing up, just the phrase “Columbine” was bone-chilling. And I don’t remember talking about it. It was scary, the idea that I might have to hide under a desk and just hope and pray that I wouldn’t be shot and killed at school. It was a long shot in Jacksonville, Ala., of course, but that made it scarier—everyone thought it was a “long shot” in their hometown, too.
And now it’s 2018, and I’ve seen Sandy Hook where 20 children were killed—first graders. And I’ve seen Aurora, Colo. where people of all ages were killed in a movie theater—including a six-year-old. I’ve seen the Pulse nightclub shooting where 49 people were killed—because of their sexual orientation. And now, in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., shooting where 15 teenage students were killed, I’m seeing more and more “close calls” and smaller attacks, like the one at a day care in Oxford where a man threatened workers with a gun. I had a conversation where my roommate and I had to stop and say, “Which school shooting are you talking about?” And those are words that I never, ever thought I’d have to say.
But here we are.
And the difference between the Parkland shooting and everything else? The students who survived are not staying silent. Emma Gonzalez has more Twitter followers than the NRA. Students across the country are organizing walkouts and protests. Schools are trying to retaliate. The government is only half-listening. But these kids are fierce. They won’t stop.
Because these are the kids who were told that they could grow up and be anything. They were raised on “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” and young adult literature that said, “You don’t have to take this. You can be something bigger than yourself. You can make a difference.”
That’s a lot to put on a child: “Go save the world.” But it’s given an entire generation incredible power. These “kids” are kids, yes, but they are so much more than that, because they’ve had to be. Because they have sat back and watched classmates die for far too long, and now they won’t let it happen again. Because that’s what Harry, Ron and Hermione did. That’s what Katniss and Peeta did. That’s what Tris and Tobias did. None of them asked for the life they lived, and neither did these students. None of the fictional characters they’ve grown up reading wanted to play the hero, but they did because no one else would. And that’s where these students are now.
Gone are the days of damsels in distress.
They’re going to save themselves.
So, do we help them do it, like McGonagall did? Like Haymitch did? Like Evelyn did? Or do we sit back and watch like Umbridge did? Like President Snow did? Like Jeanine Matthews did?
We better decide, because these kids are changing the world, with or without us.
Which side of history are we going to be on?