Yesterday, I attended the March for Our Lives here in Portland. My emotions were all over the map, as they have been for the past month and a half.
I feel inspired by the power and strength of the young people who have taken something awful and transformed it into action. I feel a kind of shame that we adults could not do this for them after Sandy Hook, which feels like just yesterday but was really six years ago. I feel proud that the people of our country are remembering what it means to care about something. I feel heartbroken that we would need to march about this thing. I feel enraged at the notion that school, my second home as a teacher, is being twisted and transformed by the threat to bring in guns as some insane way to keep us safe.
I feel enraged and sick to my stomach when people refer to schools as a "soft target" that needs to be "hardened." I know that in this context "soft" is code for "weak" and "hard" is code
for "strong" and I reject that conflation as perversely misguided. The place where our children go to learn and grow, the place where we nurture them and nourish their young minds and hearts, should be soft, gentle, welcoming. I reject a world where kindness and openness are "weak," where strength
only comes from a weapon, and where safety is only found in fear. We are all "soft targets" against a gun. The laws need to harden, not the schools, not our hearts.
In the aftermath of the 2016 Election, I wrote a poem for the nation's young people, for my students and former students. After marching yesterday, I came upon that poem in some of my papers. And I rejoiced. I know they didn't read it - my blog doesn't get that many hits - but they have lived it and I want to dance for them. So, in honor of the incredible, inspiring young people who made yesterday happen, who have mobilized power from horror, here it is again:
“Tend my sheep,” the master said.
They called him teacher too.
Are you sheep, dear ones?
In times like these, you should be
fierce and strong, pack at your back,
teeth bared and ready to attack.
Rage in the temples if you must, dear ones
for we have let you down.
There is a time to every purpose
and this is no time