Sharon Delgado: Never again! Protest is our prayer
When people step out of their comfort zones and take a stand for peace, justice, and environmental sanity, it is a form of prayer.
It is an embodied form of hope for the future. Yet people who take such stands are often dismissed or persecuted, just as prophets have been persecuted through the ages.
Today it is our youth. Some are congratulating them for their activism, but they are also being insulted and called names for marching for their lives, standing up to the ruling powers, and demanding reasonable gun laws and safe schools. When these demonstrations of active democracy are maligned or called naïve, while our political process is dominated by corporate front groups like the National Rifle Association, we are in dark times indeed.
Meanwhile, gun manufacturers and their political advocates accept very minor gun-control policies that they know will increase gun sales (see the March 2 Time magazine report: “Gun Maker Says Sales are Plunging”).
Nevertheless, young people are stepping into leadership, raising their voices, calling for an end to gun violence, including shooting deaths (often of young black men) by police. They demand adults act and lawmakers establish policies to protect them from being shot and killed in their own schools.
In my own community, many students joined in the nationwide school walkout, some with support of teachers and administrators and some on their own. I’ve talked with several of them. One student told me their school let them make signs, but they couldn’t have words or images related to guns.
Another told me the teacher said since it was raining, they could march around the halls, but later relented and they did go outside. One girl told me how she overcame her personal self-doubt when the marchers she was with turned around and she found herself in the lead. She didn’t feel like she should be leading the march. She felt like fading back and letting someone else take the lead, but she stayed the course, letting her values guide her instead of her fear.
Many people, including me, believe there would be less gun violence if there were stricter gun control laws, background checks, mental health services, and (not often mentioned) greater economic and social equity. Some of us are feeling more hope for the future because of this uprising of student activism than we’ve felt in a long time.
I, too, applaud the spirit of these young people and rejoice that they are awakening to what is at stake and coming into their own power. Every so often there is an uprising that catches fire and kindles a spirit of hope and activism for the sake of a better world. Every so often a time comes around when “the politically impossible suddenly becomes possible” (Naomi Klein). This is such a time.
But adults, now it’s on us. Youth can take the lead, and they may well be the ones who will change the world. But we can’t just cheer them on. We must act as their allies, acting in solidarity with them. We, too, must show courage. We, too, must speak out, in our homes, at work, in our places of worship, no matter how entrenched these institutions are in the status quo.
We, too must demand action in our communities, in public spaces, and to our legislators. The kids shouldn’t be the only ones to say “Never Again.” They shouldn’t be the only ones to say “We call B.S.” to the conventional wisdom that weapons of war should be easily acquired or to challenge the paralysis of lawmakers because they are in the pockets of the NRA.
Adults, too, need to extend their support, experience, expertise and resources to this movement. We need to join with our young in taking action that will make true the call, “Never again.”
Sharon Delgado is an ordained United Methodist minister, author, speaker and activist, currently living in retirement in Nevada City. Her blog, Progressive Christian Social Action, can be found at http://www.sharondelgado.org.
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