I wish I could say this was all a dream.
I wish I could wake up tomorrow and those 17 innocent lives were not lost.
I wish I didn’t have to drop off my best friends at the bus station so they can go home to bury their friends.
I wish I didn’t have to read on the news that the damn FBI overlooked a mentally unstable nineteen-year-old and allowed him to purchase an automatic assault weapon.
I wish I didn’t have to lie to my friends and tell them that everything is going to be okay because, god dammit, it isn’t. Nothing about this situation is okay. Not a single solitary thing that happened at Douglas High School that day was even in the same sentence as OKAY, in the same hemisphere as OKAY. Do you know what would be okay? If those 17 kids, those 17 beautiful, innocent people were still walking this earth.
But they aren’t.
And we are not okay. Parkland is not okay. My friends are not okay. I am not okay. The United States is not okay. The world is not OKAY.
Last week, my friend Tiffany, who went to Douglas, was at the mall when the salesman at Lush asked all of us where we were from. “Ft. Lauderdale,” Tiffany answered on command, used to giving people the same answer because anything more specific was too hard for people to recognize. And then she stood up straight, took a breath and said, “Actually, I’m from Parkland.”
For her entire life, nobody outside of southern Florida even knew where and what Parkland was. Now, for the rest of her life, when she says, “I’m from Parkland,” EVERYONE will know. Everyone will get the same chills down their back and feel the same drop of their heart and mutter the same words, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”
For those of you that don’t know, last week over a hundred kids that survived the shooting took a bus trip to Tallahassee to meet with state lawmakers and begin their rally for change. Well, after a long day in the capital, the Florida house made an incredulous 36-71 vote NOT to debate banning assault rifles. Those legislators, looked hundreds of hurting kids, kids that are just trying to fight for their own lives, and said, WE CHOOSE GUNS.
My feelings on gun control does not matter but what does matter is that these poor souls deserve to be heard. These lawmakers are so backwards that they cannot even find an ounce of remorse in their heart to DEBATE the idea of having stricter gun laws. The state of Florida has some of the most relaxed gun laws and I think, along with many other people in this world, believe something NEEDS to be done about it.
In my poetry class, my teacher has been talking to us about having more empathy not only as writers but as people. We are all humans no matter our race, gender, sexuality, social or economic status, no matter where we come from or what car we drive. We are all people and we need to protect each other. We need to have each other’s backs rather than shooting people in theirs. We need more empathy in this world and I think the world has been so caught up with tending to their selfish needs that we forget this.
This world is a dark place right now and I wish I could tell you the future will be bright, but I can’t. So, what I will leave you with is this: tell the people around you how much you love them. Show them you care about them. Don’t wait another minute, wasting your time being upset over something small. Tell your parents, your friends, your significant other, tell everyone in your life that you love them because, unfortunately, you are not guaranteed anything.
And lastly, fight for justice. Fight for what is right. Fight for peace.