One month ago today, seventeen lives were taken. Stolen. Cut far too short.
So on this day, this anniversary that no one wanted, you – along with countless other students across the nation – stepped out of your classroom for 17 minutes to honor those precious lives that were lost, unifying as one body to call for change. A plea for action.
I’m not here to talk to you about my opinion on the politics of it all; I’ll gladly leave that to the rest of the world. Instead, I’m here to offer you a message that I hope you hear loud and clear. It’s my prayer that these words will drown out all of the political jargon and the media’s buzzwords for just a moment; because, despite the way it may seem, this is about so much more than all of that. Sure, that’s a piece of the puzzle, but it’s minute in comparison to the big picture.
What I want you to know is that you are safe. No matter what your experiences may have led you to believe, you will find security again. Regardless of what you saw, heard, thought, or felt, you do not have to live in fear of the monsters of this world. Fear itself is a nasty monster, and you do not have to be consumed by it.
What I want you to know is that you are resilient. To those who experienced this most recent tragedy firsthand, who were faced with an incredibly terrifying reality that I can only imagine, there may be triggers: words, smells, sounds, and sights. Things that the rest of us who have not been in your shoes can’t begin to understand. So we will do our best to support you through your healing, knowing that it is a process. You can, and you will, find peace again.
What I want you to know is that you are respected. While some mock your youth and question the authenticity of your actions based simply on your age, they are missing the point. You are a human, and you deserve respect. That is that. Your worldview will be forever changed by this moment in history. And that is okay. It seems impossible for it not to be, in fact. So we all need to keep that in mind, the way your view of the world has completely shifted, before so harshly judging your opinions and actions.
What I want you to know is that you are capable. That you can change the world. Now, you will have to be diligent. You’ll need to do your research, gain lots of new knowledge, and feed off your passion in order to persevere. It won’t come easily, and there will be times that you feel all of your efforts have been in vain, but press in and press on. You don’t have to be “just a high schooler.” You can be an earth shaker. And why anyone would ever want to stifle your devotion to focusing on something greater than yourself is beyond me.
And, most importantly, what I want you to know is that you are valued. You are worthy, treasured, and sacred. Someone chose to blatantly ignore the sanctity of life that day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and it may have left you questioning if your life is even significant. But hold on to the truth, my dear, that your life is vastly important. It is meaningful and influential and cherished. Never allow anyone’s unspeakable acts to cause you to doubt the incredible creation that is you.
When faced with these tragedies, everyone has something to say. And the media and politicians, they’re going to want to pigeon-hole you, using you as bait to further their selfish agenda. But I see you for you. We’re all human, processing this horrific situation together, so I think it’s time that we finally step back and look at that big picture. The big picture that I see is you; your heart, your mind, your emotions, your life.
And we can only pray that one day, others will be able to set their childish pride aside and see you, too. Safe, resilient, respected, capable, valued you.