An individual made a significant donation to my school, and thus a few spots to attend the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. have opened up; my school is planning on taking several students to participate in the march for gun control on April 24th. To gain a spot, one must submit an essay to be read by faculty (it is a blind application process), and the essay must be no more than one page. I thought I would include a copy of my essay here. I utilized rhetorical strategies I learned in my AP English III class to write this.
I want to go to the march on Washington to join the ranks of students changing our nation. This is our movement, my movement. It is not up to the adults anymore, it is up to the children, the teenagers. For years, issues of gun control, ‘gun rights’, and the ‘right’ to carry have been discussed among politicians, parents- perpetually every adult. But to what end? Have the shootings stopped? Has change been enacted? No. The most change that has occurred since Columbine has been in the two week period since the Parkland shooting, and that change was led by a group of teenagers.
I want to go to the march on Washington to be a part of this movement being led students. I need to go to Washington- it is my responsibility. I cannot stand by in the sidelines and watch this movement unfurl from afar; I must be on the front lines, holding up a sign and screaming for gun control. I am negligent, I am part of the problem if I do not participate in the movement for gun control, in the movement being led by teenagers like Emma Gonzalez.
Hillel the Elder once said, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14. I must attend the march, for myself; I must prevent my future from being one of blood and death. I must attend the march, for my generation; I must make sure my peers live in a world where their voices are heard and their plans of action implemented. I must attend the march for the times; if this change does not happen now, it never will. I take Hillel’s words to heart, as a Jew and as a student during today’s call for gun control.
Audre Lorde once said, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” Gun control is not a new idea, and neither is reform, but teenagers leading the movement to call for those things is a new way of making the need for this change realized. I must heed to Lorde’s wisdom, I must be apart of the new way of making the need for the change realized; I am a teenager, I am a student, I am a member of those being shot at from the barrel of an AR-15 rifle, and thus my voice needs to be heard in this conversation regarding gun control.
Does it matter who attends this march, if it is a teenager? Yes, it matters. I am the right person to attend this march because I am well-versed in laws regarding guns, in the history of school shootings, and in current social and political matters. I alone have been running a social activism blog since I was thirteen years old, and have written on this particular issue as it pertains to Parkland. I am passionate about this cause, about stopping the death of my peers, my friends.
Does it matter who attends this march, if it is a teenager? Yes, it matters. I must attend this march. One of my dearest friends came home from her school sobbing because of a shooter threat, and begged her parents to let her stay home the next day. She does not have the opportunity to make her voice heard at this march, to tell Washington of her experience, but I do. I have the chance to represent her and every other student in peril. I have the responsibility to represent her and every other student in peril.
The adults of this nation have witnessed death by guns and have made it their normal. But I refuse to let it be the normal of my friends and my peers. I refuse to watch my generation be shot to death, one school shooting at a time.
The adults of this nation have failed their children- they have let us die en masse- 17 at a time. From Columbine to Sandy Hook to Parkland, this began with the death of children and will end with the voices of children. My voice included, hopefully at the March for Our Lives.