I think it is amazingly appropriate that the March for Our Lives movement is happening during the season of rebirth. Spring is beginning, and as the days once again grow longer, a new light has come into our national consciousness. It is the light of youth who have seen the problem clearly and taken action to bring it into the national dialogue, something which the adults in our country have been unable to do.
Harvey Milk once said, “You gotta give them hope.” He was speaking of America’s LGBT youth, but his words ring true for all young people today. The March for Our Lives movement gives hope to America’s young people, and if we are listening it will give us hope as well.
Like most people, I watched the impassioned speeches by the Parkland, Fla., teenagers with amazement. Their message was strong, often a little rough around the edges, but filled with truth. It’s that truth they are speaking to the powers in Washington, and it’s that truth that we adults have been unable or unwilling to take there.
Some say their movement is naive and that the gun lobby is too firmly entrenched to make any substantial changes. To that, I would note that Remington, a major firearms manufacturer just filed for bankruptcy, and its competitors are not far from following suit.
Strangely, guns in America are sold not for the desire to go hunting, but mainly out of fear.
Gun sales boomed under President Obama. The fearmongers drummed up a market based on the lie that, “Obama is going to take away your guns.” That silly idea alone boosted sales to unprecedented levels.
Manufacturers, anticipating a Democratic victory ramped up their production, and when the election surprised everyone, they were left with a whole lot of guns in their warehouses.
The weakness in the gun market makes this movement even more powerful. The timing may just be right to bring our country to its senses. The gun orgy may be over, and as we are forced to look at the deadly results, these young people are shining a bright new light on the problem.
Their struggle is one that LGBT people should recognize. Watching the march on television, I was reminded of the day in October many years ago in 1979 when I marched in the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. That event energized me and set me on a path of lifelong activism, and I feel sure some of the young people who attended this march will also be inspired.
It is a visceral, transformative moment and that power can’t be underestimated.
I would hope that our community, which has been the victim of gun violence many times in the past, will join forces in this new awakening. It is my hope that these young people will never march alone again and that we can support them in whatever ways they need.
It is my hope that those of us with connections to politicians can open doors when needed, because their struggle is not that different from ours. We are all seeking to live a life free of fear, and that is a worthwhile goal for everyone.
Perhaps this new movement that has so much enthusiasm and energy can actually affect the Washington machine, even in the time of Trumpism.
That word “hope” seems so appropriate now in a time when so many like me have almost given it up. The March for Our Lives gives me hope, and I find it very apropos that rebirth of hope comes at a season when many will celebrate a resurrection.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.