Today marks the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School, where 15 students and teachers (including the shooters themselves) were massacred in an act of senseless rage. And today millions of students across the country walked out of their schools to once again protest the heinous carnage that goes on time and time again around us with seemingly no end in sight. It’s time like these when we feel hopeless and that we are doomed to simply repeat the past over and over again.
This time, though, it’s different. You can feel it in the air. Change is a-comin’ and there’s nothing special interest groups, fundamentalists, or conservatives (with a small c) can do about it. Progress moves forward even in the darkest of times, and, just like life, it stops for no one. Winston Churchill said of America:
“Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.”
When pushed to the brink, America has the capacity to work wonders, but only when it is nudged enough to the point that requires a change to take place. It will feel uncomfortable, it may feel unpleasant, but through the uncomfortability comes progress.
Even Bobby had his own thoughts on progress, and they ring true today more than ever:
“Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.”
We’ve seen people lash out at the changes that young people want to bring about. Whether it be the legalization of marijuana, gun control laws, social justice reform, gerrymandering, and dealing with the vast majority of disparities that still exist between the rich and the poor, those who are white and those who are people of color, differing beliefs in sexuality and marriage, and equal pay, there will always be enemies to those who want change.
And they’re not necessarily against what you want to change. Once you’re both on even levels and able to discuss your thoughts in a sensible and nonjudgemental way you might be shocked to see where their hearts truly lie. It’s just that they’re afraid, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. We’re all human and when people want to change the things we’re used to we feel uncomfortable. But let that feeling of being uncomfortable engulf you. Let yourself be emersed in it because once you come out of it through the other side you will be a stronger person.
It’s what Bobby had to go through when Jack was killed, and it’s what we all had to go through when Bobby and Martin were gunned down. We ached. We hurt. We were uncomfortable with what was to come next, and, yes, some of us stopped believing in being able to seek that newer world Bobby wanted us all to strive towards. But that ability to strive towards it is still there. It never left. All we did was try to ignore it and act like it wasn’t there.
So, I ask you, those who wish to seek a newer world: will you join with me in making it a reality? All you need to do is turn around because it’s right there. It never left. We just need to reach out and grab hold of it.