Without a doubt the recent March For Our Lives in Washington by an estimated crowd of 800,000 teenagers to protest the sale of automatic weapons to the clinically deranged who seem to be targeting schools brings us all hope. The protest is part of the efforts initiated by survivors of the horrific shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That movement, which seems be gathering force, is determined to take on the NRA and others who are making a fortune from selling guns to those clinically deranged shooters — and the politicians who refuse to take meaningful steps to stop the carnage.
We must all be hopeful. But at the same time, we need to keep our balance so we don’t find ourselves vacillating between hope and a despair that so often results in cynicism. Think back to the 1960s when the young took on the “establishment” only to later become Yuppies worried about their promised pay raise so they could make the payment on the Volvo. The only real result of that movement was the elimination of history from college curricula — thought to be “irrelevant.” We must remain hopeful about this latest movement, which is clearly becoming a serious player in national politics, while at the same time we maintain our perspective.
The problem with such movements is not at the start. It is in maintaining the momentum when inertia sets in. After the initial enthusiasm (and clearly many of these young people are just along for the ride, having a picnic and drawing attention to themselves) there will come the inevitable let-down. That’s when the real work begins. The fight against powerful opponents like the NRA, the corrupt politicians, and the gun manufacturers who support them will be anything but a picnic: it will take courage, hard work and determination. And, given the typical American’s short attention span, concern about the Cause will have drifted off somewhere else. Once the lights and cameras are no longer looking at these kids themselves many will have lost interest and the few will have to find within themselves the strength and determination to push on and persist.
Because their cause is most just and worthy of success, I do not mean to disparage the effort of those amazing kids, many of whom were witnesses to the terrible events at their high school. But for so many followers it is mere hear-say, stories they have read on their iPads and stories that will soon be replaced by others less compelling but more current. And, as we know, the latest is always the most attention-grabbing. Let’s hope the kids at the core of this movement can continue to hold their ground, maintain their focus and determination to bring about results that will at the very least slow down the freight train of destruction that is clearly our of control — or at least in the control of those whose only objectives are profit and power, which amounts to the same thing.
No one who urges common sense in the insane war against automatic weapons wants to take all guns out the hands of hunters and those who are in need of self-protection. Many have even read the Second Amendment and realize that it was designed to protect the rights of the militia, not the so-called “right” to bear automatic weapons. But the freight train has considerable momentum, and it is powered by seemingly limitless funding and the fear of timid politicians who worry that if they take on the freight train themselves they will lose their well-paying jobs and actually have to find honest work. So the fight will be long and difficult. But these kids certainly have the right idea and it is impossible not to wish them well and hope that their fight is a successful one.
Hugh, you are right to manage expectations, but I give these kids credit for effectuating some change in the Florida legislature, forcing minor a little action in DC and getting the attention of retailers.
They are on the side of the Angels. I fault the NRA for forsaking its initial mission which included gun safety to conduct a damn the torpedos campaign to promote gun sales. They could have helped educate and pass better gun governance than set up road blocks along the way and help the Brady Bill expire that banned assault weapons for ten years.
We adults need to push our legislators to action. By failing to do so, they may have awakened a sleeping giant. Keith
I most certainly do not want to denigrate this effort. I simply urge caution and shout a warning. We don’t want the wind to go out of these sails!
Hugh, you are wise to counsel caution. These kids need to vote. It frustrates me to see so many protest after the Brexit and Trump elections, but they did not vote. This is how it works. Keith
I have a somewhat different point of view.
First of all, you paint a picture of a group of brilliant, loving teenagers trying to convince ignorant grownups that there is some new angle to this issue that hasn’t been argued in the last 250 years. The reality is that this protest was organized and funded by the usual suspects (moveon.org, et al), who are USING idealistic teenagers to push their leftist agenda. This is shameful.
Secondly, will someone please discuss the failings of the government in this whole episode? The police came to the murderers house over 50 times. The FBI failed to follow up on obvious signals (probably because they were busy investigating Russian collusion). The school system failed to deal with the kid because of out of control PC policies, both written and unwritten.
Should our solution be to voluntarily disarm ourselves now that these institutions are failing so badly?
No one I know of it urging anyone to “disarm” himself. I only hear voices urging us to act with caution and attempt to introduce an element of sanity in a world where automatic weapons are being sold willy-nilly.
Automatic weapons are not being sold willy-nilly. In fact, many laws and policies are already enacted that should have stopped this piece of garbage. The government failed us.
I totally agree with your post. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen high-school kids speaking out like this. While it gives one hope, you’re right, there will be a lot of obstacles: a powerful, well-funded, and radical lobby (the NRA), who are already lobbing unfathomably vicious taunts, accusations, and sarcasms (see jdgasper above); this lobby’s spineless politico reps who, like cheap whores, sleep with the NRA for campaign cash; our superficial info-tainment news media/business, that will bend over backwards not to appear too “liberal” in its coverage, then quickly move on to the next “hot” story, ; and the students’ own fickle behavior, guaranteed to dilute once they enter college, fall in love, then start families and careers.
But… just like the 1960s… maybe we can plant some seeds. If nothing else, we’re on the correct side of history.
Yes you are! And the seed may well bear a plant!
I share the same concern you have … can they keep up the momentum, keep the enthusiasm and the anger alive and well until the goals begin to be achieved. I give them credit, they have certainly done a great job so far! But the fight is far … FAR from over, and it will be an uphill battle, requiring herculean efforts by the young people, but also by the rest of us, especially on November 6th. Good post, my friend!
Thanks. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but we do need to keep our perspective and, as you say, give them support — especially when the going gets tough. Initial enthusiasm tends to waste away fairly quickly in our too-rapid world.
I know … and I agree. Momentum is hard to maintain in long, uphill battles, and this is not a fight that will be easily won.
P.S. My order for your book was mailed this morning! Get your pen ready! 🙂
No problem. My wrist is well rested!