Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Marching For The Children

We marched for the children in New York City on Saturday (because the Hub had an event), so here is a brief retelling of our umm, misadventures in long-distance activism:

Our day started slow because I had some writing to finish and we were distracted by all manner of stuff: the coffee maker that only displayed its instructions in French; this weird ROKU thing on the television; and just being parents to a kid who was really excited about being in a different place (and who insisted on taking two dolls with her, just because). At 11am, right when the Rally was set to start, we were finally about ready to leave, but it was well after noon by the time we even got close to the rallying point. We hailed an Uber/Lyft, hit traffic, got diverted, and had to walk several blocks to West 72nd where we were then directed to walk back uptown to West 86th. This was the essence of our "march" since by the time we got there, the Hub suggested that we needed to pause to get a sense of the crowd. Which lasted exactly ten minutes before the Toddlersaurus began to meltdown due to hunger, so we decided to take a quick lunch break around the corner. Alas, we picked the absolute wrong place--it took nearly 90 minutes for them to serve us a handful of chips and a tablespoon of guacamole as a mea culpa for having us wait another 30 minutes for our order of tacos, wings, and noodles. By the time we made it back to Central Park, this was what we found:

And that idyllic scene is what inspired this mini-piece on the Facebook page that you can read here--a quasi-contemporaneous perspective on the day's events.

Now that I've had a chance to digest some of the news coverage I gleaned from a random ROKU stream and Twitter, I wanted to add my voice to counter the asinine responses of folks who still think this is all part of some vast left-wing conspiracy. Because we already know that some of you love your guns as much as you love your comfort animals (more than actual people)--but blanket snarky assumptions are exactly why this issue is so divisive, so I am going to start by stressing my belief that reasonable people on both sides of this issue can disagree.

And the fact that we disagree does not mean that you don't care about the life of my child or that I don't have respect for your constitutional rights. It means that we have a difference of opinion. So I find it appalling that grown ass adults have taken to social media to ridicule, chide, and attack young people for expressing their views. It is especially offensive that these attacks have followed a typical strain of mean-spirited trolling that is more personal and petty than substantive.

Some of you hate Planned Parenthood with the same vehemence that some of us hate the National Rifle Association. Depending on your political leanings, one of those organizations has nefarious intentions that threaten the sanctity of life. So tell me the difference between the busloads of teenagers that descend on DC every January to March for Life and the gathering last weekend...

How did we get to this place as a country where sympathy is reserved for only certain victims (wait, why am I even asking that question in a #BlackLivesMatter/#MeToo world)? So allow me to rephrase: why are we still thinking and praying about possible solutions when people are vulnerable everywhere--at their church, at an outdoor concert, a gay nightclub, meeting with a Congresswoman, at the movies, at an early morning softball practice, on a military base, at McDonald's, at the playground, walking back from a convenience store, hanging out with friends, after volunteering at a civil rights protest, leaving a speaking engagement, playing the organ at church, standing in the doorway of an apartment building, working late in the studio, standing on a hotel balcony, or in their classrooms hovering in the coat closet. HOW MANY MORE EXAMPLES DO YOU NEED?

I was a congressional staffer when the shooting occurred at Columbine High School. We were in the midst of negotiating a juvenile justice bill, with strong opinions on both sides of how to deal with issues such as sentencing and prevention programs. Then-President Bill Clinton asked Congress to consider gun control legislation as a part of the package of reforms and I learned first-hand about the lobbying power of organizations like the National Rifle Association. I won't demonize them because it was their job to advocate on behalf of their constituency, but I will say that they are a Goliath with bipartisan appeal.

I could be cynical and end this piece with a sigh of despair by reflecting on how my own youthful idealism was dashed 19 years ago when I witnessed those congressional gun control debates after Columbine. I took this picture of my daughter on Saturday, right before we left the scene of the March (and apparently missed seeing Paul McCartney). She is why I will always be willing to zigzag the streets of New York or the halls of Congress or wherever I need to be in order to advocate against gun violence. This country has mourned the loss of too many children to senseless violence that we can prevent by confronting the notion that we dare not control access to the tools of their demise. So I end this with an adorable photo of my Toddlersaurus to remind the world that nothing is more precious than the lives of our children. We march for their lives.

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