Saturday was Girl Scout STEM Day at Avila, a yearly event hosted by our Tri Beta biology student club. Several of our science faculty participate, and this year, I brought out the bees.
Thanks to my growing collection and somewhat more secure knowledge of our local fauna, I was able to show our area Girl Scouts a lot of great bees from their hometown. The girls were a little wary at first, but then they got really excited. By far the most popular bees were the metallic green Agapostemon; a coloring session at the end of our lab yielded lots of green bees and several conflicts over the green crayons!
Girl Scout STEM Day took me out of the game for direct participation in the March for Our Lives – unlike Hermione in the Harry Potter series, I have yet to discover a magic that will allow me to be in two places at once. But I did get home in time to catch some of the media coverage of the nationwide event. Rarely have I seen speeches as moving as the ones televised from Washington D.C., and while I knew this march was going to be big, to see just how big was truly inspiring.
As the marches began to draw to a close and protesters dispersed, television reporters snagged a few here and there with the proverbial set of questions for the audience at home. The one question I heard repeated several times was this: Do you really think change is possible?
I found the question annoying; representative of the sort of vapid reporting that characterized the pre-2016 era when journalists had all but forgotten what their job is really about. After all, how did these journalists expect the protesters to respond?
Well, actually I got up at 6 am (or rode that 18 hour bus) and spent all day on my feet carrying this sign and shouting until my throat was raw because of a firmly held conviction that change is NOT possible.
Given that the answer to the question was pretty obvious, one can’t help but wonder why reporters kept asking it. It was as if they were intentionally trying to seed doubt into the situation.
This has been the narrative of the gun debate in the news media since Parkland: That change is unlikely and that in a couple weeks ‘everyone will forget.’ Some newscasters have the grace to express frustration at this professed ‘truth,’ but here’s thing: Change can in fact happen, and we have not in fact forgotten.
No one I know has forgotten Columbine or Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech or Orlando or Las Vegas or any of the mass shootings that have taken so many innocent lives over all these years. (If you’re looking to be depressed, check out the complete list from 1982 to 2018 on Mother Jones.) Mass shootings are now burned into the psyche of an entire generation, and yet still they are silenced by the news cycle, by the payrolls of the NRA, and in the blunt-edged minds of our politicians.
So with all due respect to those television reporters, I don’t believe it’s the American people who are short on memory or who have lost their faith in change.
You ask if change is possible? My mother wasn’t allowed to go to college because she was a woman. I not only went to college, but earned my doctorate. Now I teach and mentor other young women as they lay the foundations for another generation of successful and fulfilling careers.
You ask if change is possible? My father grew up in an era of segregation. I proudly voted for an African American president, who also happened to be the greatest president of our time. A man of intelligence, integrity, and vision; a faithful husband and dedicated father. Cool-headed and a true leader of nations. Remember what it was to have a president like that? What I wouldn’t give to have another.
You ask if change is possible? When I was in high school, we didn’t even know what the word ‘homosexual’ meant. Now people who used to live in hiding can express themselves openly and gay marriage is legal across the nation.
Of course, change can cut both ways, taking us places we don’t want to go. We saw that happen in 2016. So the question is not whether change is possible; it’s what kind of change do you want to see?
If the change you want to see helps us build a more peaceful and less violent world, then let’s do it. I’ll be marching with you all the way.