Today, like every other Saturday morning, I was on my commute to work. I live in Boston, but I have to commute out of the city to get to my rotation site (I’m a Pharmacy Intern).
So here I am sipping away at my poorly flavored coffee, and rubbing the exhaustion out of my eyes, when something captures my attention. It was a sign — a sign held by a 15-year-old girl that read: “Am I next?”
Up until that moment, I hadn’t realized that the orange line trains were arriving sooner than usual, and letting out crowds and crowds of young people. Up until that moment, I hadn’t realized that today was the day — the day we were called to March for Our Lives. Images of the Florida school shooting came flooding back, and I could feel the tears fall behind them.
I’m usually not big on crying in public, but I just couldn’t keep it together. Standing before me were crowds of young people with plenty of life before them having to ask: “Am I next?” And it broke my heart.
I imagined the fear that they have been experiencing and mourned the innocence that they have lost. I wanted to hug each and every one of them and tell them how proud I was of what they were doing, and how much I wished I could skip work and march with them.
But, instead, I just walked around and read some more signs. These signs gave me hope. Because if I was taking the time to read them, someone important might be reading them, too. But it also made me wonder: is it enough? Is this all it’s going to take for our leaders to listen?
And then I asked myself: what am I doing to support this change? How can change start with ME. How can I be a part of this movement? I couldn’t make it to the march, but in what ways could I protest my perspective?
I thought of these questions for about five minutes while I waited for the train, and then I went on with my day. I waited for someone to ask me about it at work, but no one seemed to care. I referred to my social media pages, and only three of my friends raised their voices about what this movement meant to them. We all seemed to let the events of our days get ahead of the main event – The March for OUR Lives.
And then it hit me — no one’s going to listen to us if this isn’t something we continue to talk about. No one’s going to listen to us if this isn’t a part of our DAILY conversation. How do we expect our leaders to care, if we don’t care enough? The key word here is WE. WE CAN’T GIVE UP ON OUR MARCH. This can’t just be a one day event. This march needs to be something WE continue to talk about or nothing will change.
We can’t continue this routine of momentary outrage, then forget about our anger until the next school shooting rolls around. We can’t wait around until gun violence comes to our schools before we start taking action.
Start small. Ask your friends how many of them own a gun. And how many would be willing to give it up. Ask your local shops, are they willing to stop selling firearms. Ask your local police are they willing to stop handing out licenses to own a firearm? Sometimes small changes are how the big changes happen.
You know what you need to do to inspire change, so do it. Don’t wait for our government to do something you haven’t been brave enough to do yourself.