"When your children act like leaders and your leaders act like children, you know change is coming.”
So Tweeted Mikel F. Jollett
” We’ve had enough. We are the generation that was born after Columbine. We have lived with is our entire lives and now it happened at my school. I spent two hours in a closet just hiding and I am done hiding. We're done hiding. America has done hiding.”
Matt Dietsch, survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting
At its best, media informs, educates and engages. In this case, some of the coverage of the students speaking out in the aftermath of the shooting has shown the media at its best.
Students from Stoneman Douglas High School have sounded the alarm and brought the gun control debate to the forefront days after they survived a mass shooting on campus on Feb. 14.
The suspect, a former student, entered the school with a legally purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and killed 17 people.
Over the last few days, we've seen the power of voices raised as one. The students of Stoneman Douglas and the other students around the nation who have joined with them have been able to bring an issue to light to shine a light on it that no other group has before.
Gun violence in America is an issue that has been one where empty rhetoric has replaced action as countless innocent victims have been senselessly gunned down. On one side of the aisle, politicians afraid of alienating their base, afraid of losing votes and afraid of losing funding, have chosen their political careers over lost lives. On the other side, those who thought this was a losing issue and one not worth the battle, have backed down.
But all that is changing, students whose lives have been affected have raised the alarm and as they persevere, they are making a difference. Dubbed the "Never Again" movement, the teenage activists are utilizing the traditional media, being interviewed on television, radio, newspapers, and magazines. They are also mobilizing on social media, organizing school walkouts, and planning a nationwide protest for March 24. They are sending a message and those who turned deaf ears to so many in the past are being forced to listen.
#BoycottNRA hashtag has taken on a life of it’s on and it is making a difference. A partial list of companies who have cut ties with the NRA include:
- Delta Airlines
- United Airlines
- The First National Bank of Omaha
- The Semantic Corp
- Wyndham Hotels
- * Also, Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent a Car, and National Car Rental) — has chosen to end a discount program for NRA
Whether this new movement will continue to have an impact, or whether the political powers that be will be able to shut it down as they have other attempts to raise the alarm, still needs to be seen. Regardless, these students have changed the landscape forever. They have raised their voices, have been heard and they now understand that they can impact society as a whole. The fact that it took this many deaths and children raising their voices to be heard is a sad commentary on where we are as a nation.
And now it is up to the rest of us. America now needs to stand with its children and the media needs fulfill its obligation by keeping a spotlight on the issue and not letting it die or become simply another news cycle that passes and is forgotten.