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I march for the 17 that cannot

Millions of folks yesterday participated in the March For Our Lives in response to the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. So did my husband Paul and I.

We did it for different reasons.  Paul  looked back at what he had done, or not done, fifty years ago or so, and found himself not having been public enough on his views of the issues then. “This time I want to be on the right side of history.”

I went because Emma Gonzalez’s words shortly after the shooting: they moved me. I also went because of my two grandsons, who both feel part of the school shooting generation.

So we bought two tickets for Washington, DC and found ourselves with hundreds of thousands of other people: many high schoolers, of course, their teachers, their parents; women and men with their pussy hats; whole families whose children are old enough to get killed in school shootings since they have the age to go to school: 5-6 years old…

“I knew how to duck bullets, before I knew how to read,” said one very young black girl at the microphone.

I expected to march. In fact we stood still. Standing still for three hours is not that easy and it completely upset my iWatch which took those three hours standing still for ‘Move’… Maybe because my heart did the walking my legs couldn’t do.

I’m glad there were no politicians or celebrities on the stage. Well, there were celebrities, just not the Hollywood kind. Miley Cyrus sang — I had to ask two young students who she was. And I missed Ariane Grande. Sorry. I heard her, but didn’t get who she was. I would have liked to know, because I really admired her during and after the Manchester killings.

Most of all, I listened to the children who spoke to us. I realized that they were ‘witnessing’. I can’t think of anything more moving than someone witnessing.

I have heard poor women from the slums of Madras (now Chennai), witnessing about the moment they suddenly found the courage to stand tall and address their sisters in poverty about the harsh reality of their own lives.

I have heard women and men witnessing about Godde in their lives, as they gave a rollo during a Cursillo weekend.

I just didn’t expect to hear young boys and girls, from 9 to 18, I guess, witnessing about the excruciating pain which comes from losing a sibling or a friend to gun violence, the constant fear to be the next one, the stress that comes from having gone through it.

I fell asleep still hearing their voices . I’m going through today  their voices still ringing in my ears.

And I’m glad I’m still hearing them, because their voices, their stories, will help me keep the momentum going.

Everyone can read the many articles or watch the youtube videos about yesterday. I don’t want to repeat here what you can find elsewhere.

I just would like to mention the young Edna Chavez, from South L.A., who talked about her brother. She opened her speech in Spanish, and my “Puerto Rican” heart rejoiced to hear her words.

Or the young black boy who spoke so well, so articulately, about what it means to lose his big brother to gun fire.

Or the young black girl of 11 who talked of her beautiful dead sisters nobody else talks about, of the promise of their lives cut short…

I was taken by surprise by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s granddaughter. That little kid had us repeat after her four times, if I remember correctly, those words that she wanted us to say with passion. When we finally did what she expected of us, she told us we could give ourselves a round of applause.

When it came time to sing “Happy Birthday” for what would have been  Nicholas Dworet’s 18th birthday yesterday… tears came before the words…

There were also of course those six minutes + of silence during Emma Gonzalez’s speech. At first I thought it was a minute of silence, then I got that those minutes were the time it took the 19 years old killer to stop short the lives of those seventeen human beings .

I feel unfair not to mention everyone, every young girl, every young man who found the courage to stand up and witness to us what it means to live with the fear of guns in their lives. They each are now in my heart and I will find out, learn and remember their names. I do not want to forget one of them.

What I didn’t expect was the involvement of youngsters whose lives are threatened by gunfire not only in their schools, but in their neighborhoods. I heard them loud and clear. I am just not sure how I, a white grandmother, can come to the rescue to help their world be a safer place. But I heard them. They made sense to me, and I’m pretty sure they made sense to each person listening to them on Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday.

I feel grateful the Spirit moved us to go to Washington, DC yesterday. I saw a poster which said “Fuck your prayers.” I can’t say I feel comfortable with the words, but I understand the feeling behind them. What’s the point of prayers without actions?

Godde meant this world to be a good place. How did we let it come to the point it is at now? But the kids came along, and it’s our turn to listen, to learn, and help them in their “nonviolent revolution.”