From Columbine to Parkland, What’s Changed?
Dear Young Professional,
I want to take a moment this week to reflect on current events. I was travelling for business in Colorado on April 20, 1999 the day of the Columbine shooting. Some of you weren’t even born yet. Since then there has been 25 fatal mass school shootings as reported by Shep Smith on FOX News.
That day in 1999 it was unimaginable that a student would bring a gun to school let alone shoot up classmates and faculty. It was so shocking that businesses closed, and my purpose of traveling there for a conference, considered cancelling our event.
If you have been reading my blog letters, you know that I have immense hope in your generation. In my post on January 12th, The Common Denominator, I point out your value of fairness as shared with Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
If anyone wants to see the best of the collective character of a younger generation, look at the students’ response to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. They are focused, organized and vocal and they have a leader in student activist David Hogg. A young, poised, well-spoken man who represents the voices of the students. I watched his interview on Morning Joe today and saw a person who looks a lot like the young professionals I work worth. Caring, measured, bright and driven.
Sometimes in life our purpose is assigned to us by events. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas will have this event shape their lives forever.
That’s what’s changed between Columbine and Parkland. In Columbine, we were stunned into silence. Columbine did change the way we thought about safety in schools, but I don’t think anyone would have predicted it was the start of an epidemic. As adults we had voices, we didn’t know there was a need for a message, let alone what that message should be.
Then in 2012, Sandy Hook happened. Now there was outrage. Outrage this was continuing to happen. Outrage at the age of the students, 20 children and 6 adults killed. The questions we asked again, “is this different, will things change?” On a state level they did change, but we continue to be paralyzed in making changes to reverse this trend of violence in our schools.
So, what’s different now? The students impacted are adults or almost adults. They don’t need an elder to speak for them or act on their behalf. They are taking responsibility for their lives and the lives of future students when those who should protect won’t. This not a case that people in government, healthcare and business “can’t” make the change, they have not had the courage to take a stand and make a change.
What’s different are the VOICES! Voices of those impacted who demand change. They may be students, but they vote or soon will and entering the workforce will have disposable income to spend. You only must look at how quickly businesses have dropped association with the NRA and gun manufacturers to know this time it’s different.
his is a grass roots movement. Like all grass roots movements, it will be challenged, it may lose some momentum. I predict in the end the memory of these students is long and their values will not change.
I have long thought that the pace of technological advancement in my generation will be matched by the social advancement by your generation. Out of tragedy comes hope. My hope continues to be fueled by your generations’ sense of right, wrong and fairness.
Every voice matters. Every life counts. Make sure you are using the most of your voice and life.
Fondly, Aunt Kris