Seventeen. Seventeen beautiful souls tragically lost well before their time. 150,000. 150,000 is the number of students that have experienced a shooting on their campus since 1999 when the Columbine shooting occurred. 170. 170 primary or secondary schools have had a school shooting on their campus between 1999 and 2018. One. You are one person. Once voice. What can you possibly do to shift this new paradigm in our country?
Now more than ever, your voice matters. As young females in our country you have the power to create change. I don’t know what the answer is to stop this violence and this post isn’t about gun control, mental health issues, or gun violence, although they are all very important topics. This is about what you as young women can do to fight to status quo. To go out and use your voice, your influence, your passion, to create real change. Because if not you, who?
This week I listened to Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School speak passionately about the shooting that happened at her high school on Wednesday. Emma told the crowd “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting.” Emma’s speech has been played around the world. Her onevoice is inspiring hundreds of thousands of young people to act. To take a stand and say enough is enough.
You don’t have to be an eloquent speaker or a survivor of a high school shooting to use your voice to create change. As young women, you have more influence than any generation of women before you. You have the freedom to vote, to speak your mind, to share your stories, and to work together, along side other young men and women to create real change. It won’t be easy. There is so much work to do and so many unanswered questions. Our system is broken and it is up to all of us to fix it.
Thursday morning I had the privilege to spend a few hours with 32 female high school students that are working together to make a difference for themselves and other young women around them. They understand the importance of tribe, community, encouragement, and kindness. As disheartening as this week as been, I refuse to succumb to the overwhelming sadness and despair that so many of us feel. The girls I was with on Thursday morning and the hundreds of incredible young adults I work with on a daily basis remind me that while there is evil in this world there is also SO MUCH good and we can never lose hope. I don’t even pretend to have the answers, but I do know that I won’t give up hope. For my daughter and all of the kids I work with everyday, I choose kindness, compassion, and HOPE.
I hope that today, you will also choose hope. I want you to know that your voice matters and that we must all muster up the courage and strength to use those voices to create change. Whether you want to speak up about violence, hatred, an injustice happening in your community, or for the girl sitting next to you in math class that is constantly being silenced, whatever good you choose to use your voice for, please use it. It matters, now more than ever. And I will ask you again, if not you, who?