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Editorial: Courage and activism of MSD survivors provide hope for change

March 6, 2018

Rose Guan

It happened again. Another mass shooting at yet another school—yet another senseless tragedy. Yet another evening news broadcast full of crying faces of children and parents mourning the 17 lives cut short by yet another young white male, this time on Valentine’s Day, this time in Florida.

Any mass shooting in America today is met with a dual response: a popular outpouring of empathy and support for the shooting victims—and a silent resignation that, despite any words and activism and frustration, “Nothing will change.”

It’s easy to fall into this mode of thinking—we’ve certainly had our hopes crushed before. Perhaps the 13 deaths at Columbine High School will be the last tragedy, galvanizing people (and Congress) to action. No, perhaps the 32 college students of Virginia Tech will be the last deaths. Perhaps the 13 dead soldiers at Fort Hood will. Perhaps the 27 children and adults of Sandy Hook. Or the 49 people crowded into Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub. The 58 concert attendees in Las Vegas. 26 people at Sunday church services in Sutherland Springs—

And here we are again: a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida.

In the aftermath of this new shooting, each of us must again face a personal crossroad: will I hold out hope for change? Or will I resign myself to cynicism?

But perhaps—this time—there is finally reason to believe change is coming.

Winged Post reporters spent several hours last week talking to MSD students Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg and MSD journalism teacher Melissa Falkowski. The students have started the Never Again movement, with a March for Our Lives on March 24, and they plan to continue after high school and into college their work that has begun to enact stronger gun control in the U.S.

We spent many hours reading and writing about the earnestness, anger, bravery and intelligence that MSD students have mustered through an unimaginably difficult tragedy.

Their courage caused us to tear apart and redesign this Winged Post issue to spotlight their activism and to shine a light on America’s gun epidemic. We transcribed 12,000 words and wrote 5,000 more in 48 hours about MSD students and their efforts for gun control.

We talked to our own Harker teachers and students and staff, on the record as journalists and off as humans, about how they feel after another school shooting, about where our school’s concerns lie and about the changes we want to make.

Everyone we’ve spoken to in the last two weeks has said “Change is happening.” And if you want to be a part of change? Wonderful.

Let’s talk politics. Inspired by everyone we’ve talked to, here’s a few suggestions for amplifying your political engagement.

No matter what, register to vote. Then, when you turn 18, vote. Then vote again. And again. Vote in every election—school, city, state, national—for the rest of your life.

Call people out. Encourage them to join you in doing something.

See our centerspread for a how-to guide for activism.

Go to a march. Or create a new one for something you believe in.

Put your time or your money where your mouth is. Emulate the Gates and the Chan-Zuckerbergs of the world: amplify and bolster those whose ideologies and ideas you support.

Join a political campaign. Spend this summer working for a 2018 congressional candidate you wholeheartedly believe in. If you’re not happy with our Congress, try to change its balance. If you’re fine with it, work to keep Congress where it is.

Raise funds for candidates you know will make a change. Send letter after letter after letter on issues of concern to your elected officials until they listen. Physically show up to the offices of lawmakers who right now could (but aren’t) supporting solutions instead of creating more problems.

Read as much as you can. Scour candidates’ platforms and the intricacies of tax reform like you do Stranger Things or the NBA or machine learning.

Take what you know and teach other young people. Amplify each other’s voices. Debate. Change people’s minds. Show them new ideas. Find some new ones yourself.

Fail, but try again. Keep waiting, but be patient.

It’s easy to forget Washington or Sacramento or San Jose leadership as areas for kids in the middle of Silicon Valley to pursue, when the familiarity of tech sounds a siren song so seductive.

But now maybe Washington—and its political leadership (or lack thereof)—needs you more than do the already-crowded halls of Google and Facebook and university labs and biotech startups.

Maybe some of you read- ing this will consider the lifelong route of a career in political service. Do it. Major in political science, go to law school and then run for office yourself. When you’re elected, make a d*** difference.

Define what kind of generation we’re going to be and what you want your role in our generation to be, starting right now.

What the MSD students’ activism has shown us most potently is that you don’t know what you’re capable of until you start.

And we’re all ready to start.

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