The National School Walkout Day was this week, a day that was intended to be partly a memorial for the victims of the Parkland shooting and partly a day for teenage activism against gun violence. I saw many different videos and descriptions of how various schools chose to participate. I also heard about districts that threatened suspension for any student who did walk out. Some schools had very organized events supported by administration, while others were more of a protest handled strictly by students. As usual, there were very opposing views of what they day was all about and how it should be handled.
Likewise, I saw many social media posts urging the students to INSTEAD “Walk Up”, meaning walk up to someone who typically sits alone at the lunch table and invite them to sit with you, or walk up to someone and just say something nice, or anything along those lines. The idea being that many of the shooters in these mass shootings have been loners who are angry because they have been excluded and are trying to get even. So if we all make more of an effort to be more inclusive, then perhaps that will be a preventative measure. Even without factoring in the shootings, focusing on being more kind and inclusive is always a good thing, so I like the idea.
What I don’t understand is why it has to be one OR the other. What’s wrong with the students protesting peacefully in order to have their concerns and opinions heard AND making a conscious effort to be more inclusive and kind? The two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with so many issues today though, where so many people focus on one particular facet of what they believe the solution should be and don’t understand that one thing alone is not going to solve the problem. Gun violence is a perfect example. Stricter gun control is one option that seems to be successful in many other countries, which many people support. But there are plenty of people who believe the answer is more guns. And there are those who think we need to focus on bringing attention and more resources to mental health issues. Then there is the devaluing of human life because of the exposure to violence and trauma either in real life or in video games, television, and movies that many think is the biggest contributing factor.
The problem is that there is not necessarily one thing we can blame and that needs to be changed. We don’t have to focus on guns OR mental health, for example. It all needs to be addressed. But when people retreat to their corners and only want to focus on the one issue they think is most important or the only solution, then we will not make as much progress with this issue as we need to. Or any others for that matter. People need to be more open-minded and more willing to consider ALL of the aspects of this or any other issue that needs to be addressed and make it a priority to set aside our differences and work together to make some significant progress. If we all continue to “stick to our guns” regardless of the evidence to the contrary and only focus on one aspect of the problem, we will go nowhere.