Here’s why I’m marching tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I will gather at the cathedral with students, parents, clergy and others to assemble for the March for our Lives event at the State House. We will gather earlier than the noon kick-off time (11:30) in order to collect ourselves before God and each other and to lift the day in prayer.
We will pray for the 17 victims who lost their lives in the Parkland, Florida shooting. We will pray for the more than 7,000 children who have died at the hands of firearms since the Sandy Hook shooting six years ago. We will pray for the 93 people who die from gun violence in our country Every. Single. Day. Yes. Every. Single. Day.
We will pray for parents, siblings, friends and the grandparents of the children who have been killed. The world is off kilter when we find parents and grandparents weeping for the loss of their children and grandchildren. That is not how it is supposed to be in the greater scheme of things.
We will pray for every young person who, as a matter of course, gets up, puts on their blue jeans, steps off the school bus and into a school each day. Imagine wondering, at your core, if you will be safe each day as you simply go about your business, doing your best to learn about quadratic equations, the Dred Scott Decision (we do still teach about that great injustice, don’t we?), and why prepositions do not belong at the end of a sentence. Imagine wondering if you will meet a person armed with an AR 15 on your way to the water fountain. Imagine wondering if you will make it back from the bathroom alive. We will pray for safety, for peace of mind, and for calm hearts of our tender children.
We will pray for heroism. For teachers who instinctively put themselves between flying bullets and children. For those who have kept cool heads with the pop of gun shots exploding in the hallway, and for those who have stood watch as their classrooms have been evacuated through a ground level window. We will pray with thanksgiving for all teachers and administrators who continue to work tirelessly to provide a safe place for learning.
And, we will pray for the leadership of our children. I am marching tomorrow to offer support to a generation of young people who have said that enough is enough. I am marching to add volume to a movement that is led by children. To lift up the efforts of those who will not stand by and wait for the next school shooting to happen (it already did, on Tuesday in Maryland), but who want to put a stop to gun violence in our country today. I march in support of sensible gun legislation that removes assault rifles from the arsenal of weapons available legally and illegally in our country. I march in support of banning bump stocks and other means by which guns are outfitted to increase their deadliness. I march in support of getting rid of high volume magazines. I march in support of background checks. I march in support of getting guns out of the hands of those who are mentally ill and those who are documented, violent criminals.
Enough is enough, indeed.
Tomorrow, I will march.
Before we march, we will pray. And before we march, we will talk with our group about how to stay safe at a large rally. We will dress our children in bright t-shirts so we can keep an eye on them. We will share a “safe word” in case there is a need to cut out and return to the cathedral for safety. We will learn about what counter-protesters we might encounter, and how to keep ourselves focused on keeping a peaceful rally. We will take sensible precautions for a safe rally in a tense time.
On Tuesday night, two days after the rally, I will hold a live Zoom conference at 5 PM to talk about what we experienced on Saturday. Knowing that our diocese will be home to at least four different rallies (Williamsport, York, Lancaster and Harrisburg) I will gather up those who want to share their experiences and de-brief together by telephone on Tuesday night. We can hear about how things unfolded in each location and continue our prayers for safety, peace and justice. For information about how to log onto the call, please follow my Facebook page and the Facebook page for our diocese.
May the March for our Lives be safe. May it create change. May it be blessed.