To the children who chose to walk out of their classrooms exactly one month from the date when 14 students and three educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were killed, we thank you.
To the parents who supported their children’s decision to walk and participate in something we already have begun to see as widely impactful, we commend you.
To the educators and administrators who facilitated safe ways for students to carry out a non-violent protest and gain an invaluable experience exercising their First Amendment right, we admire you.
And to the public servants who so far have failed to do anything substantial about protecting the children of this country from the next attack, we hope you may finally recognize — because of the voices of children — that now is the time for action and for change.
As the editorial board of Scroll, we hope our audience understands the stance we are choosing to make by thanking those children for choosing to walk, commending their parents for choosing to be supportive and admiring their educators for choosing to actually educate.
To be perfectly, absolutely, 100 percent crystal clear, this editorial is not about taking a stance on gun control. This is not about truancy or skipping school or about parenting techniques. This is about supporting a generation of kids for standing together, communicating with each other, becoming united and fighting for what they believe is right. This is about learning something from the youth of today in order to create a better, safer tomorrow.
By applauding and commending these students for choosing to take part in the nationwide walkouts on Wednesday, March 14, we are embracing the idea that we all should be informed citizens. By learning from their example, we become free to make a stand when we see a need for change, able to have an impact on the environment we find ourselves in.
These young men and women who were brave enough to step forward proved that it is possible to stand together and send a message, not just to Congress or local lawmakers, but to the entire country. These students recognized what many of us still struggle to admit: Gun violence is an issue that needs more attention if we’re ever going to find an effective solution.
These students chose to walk, and they learned first-hand of the power they can hold by being united. They showed us all how to stand together, and they gained a valuable experience with the First Amendment that many of us have never had because learning to exercise our First Amendment rights is difficult to do in the classroom.
Imagine how important this experience will be for each of the students who participated in the walkouts, especially if the solution to gun violence stems from the voices of these children. Imagine how important this would be for the country, or even for the world.
By not walking away from the issue and instead walking directly toward it, these students learned how to raise their voices peacefully, without the violence that many of them were protesting. These students demanded change and learned how to take action when the situation demands it.
Hopefully, their influence will have a rippling impact on the nation, and we’ll start to see many more individuals who previously felt like they had no voice start to speak up in effectively peaceful ways. Maybe the rest of us will start to recognize the strength in unity that was so perfectly demonstrated by children walking out of elementary, middle and high school classrooms.
The room for creative expression of peaceful demonstrations of speech is broad and should be welcomed within this country.
A perfect example came just the day before these walkouts took place, when the lawn of the U.S. Capitol building was decorated with 7,000 pairs of donated shoes. These shoes were placed to symbolize the estimated 7,000 children murdered through gun violence since 2012, based on a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 1,300 children die from gun violence every year.
These types of deeply meaningful gestures are difficult to ignore, and, like the students who chose to walk — to those men and women who donated those 7,000 pairs of shoes, we applaud you too.
To the dedicated organizers of these peaceful, non-profit, creative demonstrations, we appreciate your example and hope to see more individuals like you standing up for what they believe.
Times are tough, but it’s moments like Wednesday — when the whole world is watching children lead a movement that no one else was brave enough to lead — that should inspire all of us to be a little better.
These kids clearly have a lot to say. The least we can do is listen. The most we can do is show them our support and let them know we’re thankful for their example.