Florida shooting sparks advocacy

Daniel Leonard, Staff writer

Whether you graduated from high school recently or a while ago, you probably remember that high school is a time when a child’s focus should be on prom, college acceptance letters or plans after graduation.

For the Parkland students in Florida, that period has been disrupted by tragedy.

Students were hunted. Some were shot. Others witnessed fellow students being shot and faculty bravely taking bullets to protect students and dying in the process.

While many of us would respond to this tragedy by grieving or demanding revenge, survivors of this horrific event have managed to turn their anger into action and demand change from the leaders who run our country.

In a country born from a revolution when people saw something wrong and demanded change from a nation larger and more powerful than them, this act of strength by children should be admired and reinforced by the rest of us.

It is activism in the finest American tradition.

As citizens fighting for election to positions of power, candidates from all parties promise change for the better on a variety of topics while they are seeking votes.

History has demonstrated that once they are elected, when a tragedy like the Parkland shooting occurs, many politicians suggest that it is too soon to take action, and instead urge the public to focus on “thoughts and prayers.”

The vocal Parkland survivors believe that it is time to act and have rejected the notion that thoughts and prayers are enough.

While thoughts and prayers are important to support the survivors, victims and their families, it should be equally important to ensure that a massacre of innocent civilians doesn’t occur again.

A vital part of elected officials’ jobs is to find potential solutions to problems, consider the outcome of their decisions and take the action to implement the necessary changes to ensure better, safer lives for the citizens.

If our leaders are only able to perform half of their job, developing suggested solutions to problems, and are unable to implement their potential solutions, why wouldn’t we demand a change?

If a doctor could perform only half of a medical procedure that you needed, would you hire them to perform a surgery?

Personally, I would demand a doctor who was better equipped to handle the procedure and motivated to take care of any complications that occur.

So why do we accept politicians who only perform half their job?

One great quality of the United States is that each person is entitled to their own opinions and ensured the freedom to voice those opinions, within reason. Just look at the variety of
political parties that can share and shape our beliefs, while simultaneously dividing us as a country.

Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, a member of the Green party or an independent, I am asking each reader to press pause on life once again and consider what you would like to see happen in the United States in the future.

We are nearly two months into 2018, and this is the 18th school shooting since Jan. 1.

The average is three shootings per week. Can’t this one be the last?

We have learned to accept the excuse that it is not time to act, but to hope, think and pray, despite the news of school shootings constantly being reported around us.

But this is America, and each of us is empowered to do more and to support the Parkland survivors.

David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland/Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, suggested boycotting Florida for spring break to put financial pressure on businesses so that they will lean on legislators to encourage them to take action.

With a tourism industry that rolls in north of $60 billion a year, it might not be the craziest thing to do to use the power of dollars to demand change.

Hogg even suggested that people travel to Puerto Rico instead and help improve the island’s economy as it continues to recover from Hurricane Maria.

Whether or not you agree with this course of action, I urge every reader to take some action and demand change by legislators. At this point, any action would be a place to start.

We have a right to expect legislators to do more than pray to protect us.