Over the past couple of weeks, thousands of teenagers across the nation have walked out of their schools, gathered in public places, and protested against gun violence. These kids have taken to the streets – mainly in a peaceful and orderly way – to send he clear message “Enough is enough!” Of course, no one can argue with that message. There is no doubt that something needs to be done to enhance school safety and curb gun violence in our society. But exactly how to do it is not that simple.
Most of these protest events have reflected that complexity. Many protesters are advocating for gun control legislation. Their list of demands are familiar. In fact, they might have come straight from a pamphlet for the national gun control lobby. Other, more thoughtful, students realize that gun control on its own won’t be enough to solve such a complex problem. In any case, it is encouraging to see a generation, so criticized for its apathy and detachment, stand up and show their true colors. It shines hope for the future of the Republic.
Perhaps most impressive of all, though, was the assembly held at Moapa Valley High School on March 15. It was planned and organized by the MVHS student council leadership as their answer to the nation-wide Walk-out which was done the same day. In a report, published in our March 21 edition, Progress journalist Maggie McMurray reported on some rather poignant moments at this assembly, which was wholly devoted to memorializing the fallen students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The memorial service was not done in an overdramatic, showy, or on-the-surface sort of way. Each victim was recognized individually by displaying his/her photo and providing a few unique character traits and talents that brought each one to life for the local kids. In each case, a single MVHS student came forward solemly from the audience; as if to represent and portray the fallen student; and lit a candle to shine a little light into the dark auditorium. Having a Moapa Valley proxy stand for each Parkland youth served to bring the matter home all the more.
Finally, MVHS teacher Dallas Larsen addressed the students. He encouraged them to recognize the amazing diversity of life; the inestimable worth of each individual to society as a whole. He noted the amazing variety of talents and abilities in the MVHS assembly alone; each one being able to offer to the community what no one else could if they were gone. Instead of spending their lives advancing themselves by pulling down their fellow students, Larsen urged them all to use their specific talents to build one another up.
Some of the protestors that day might have criticized this peaceful service. They might have said that holding a mere memorial service, without actively protesting the cause of the violence, was useless. But this would be a short-sighted criticism of the local memorial gathering. This local event WAS addressing the root causes of violence even more directly than the rowdy protest movements ever could. Most of the protesters have taken to the streets to demand that the federal government pass a law. By contrast, our students were looking to themselves, their neighbors and their community for the answers.
In planning this assembly, the MVHS student leadership seemed to recognize that real answers to senseless acts of violence won’t come from Washington. Rather the change must come from one person at a time. When people teach each other, and begin to realize, the inestimable value of each individual; when they begin to see that every person will need a little boost from his fellows once in a while; and when they realize that they can give that little boost and to be the difference – that is when the real change will take place.
Trouble is, those kinds of values can’t be legislated. Taking a protest march to Washington is an easy path. It may shift the blame but it won’t bring the fix. Since when has an act of Congress every really fixed anything? The values needed come from good kids from solid families in stable communities. That is the real fix that is needed. And at its essence, that was exactly what the MVHS student body were saying in their “Walk Out Day” assembly. The local kids should be applauded for doing their part to bring real change to an insane world. Go Pirates!