I love you, Emma Gonzalez

On Saturday, you emerged from the unspeakable trauma and tragedy of the Parkland shooting, to confront an anxious world waiting expectantly for you to say something meaningful. And for more than four minutes, you stood silently, hot tears running down your cheeks, and said nothing…and everything..about what you experienced and what the world needs to know. My unworthy tears matched yours, as you reached deep into my soul–and the souls of countless others transfixed by your courage.

Emma Gonzalez 2.0

I love you, Emma Gonzalez.

A young woman of color, you became a spokesperson for a generation grown up in the senseless shadow of gun violence but who can can peer into the sunlight beyond barriers and into an illimitable future. You and your classmates are quick to deflect the spotlight from yourselves, reminding us over and over to look to those who suffer gun violence as a daily struggle, far from the headlines–poor communities, communities of color, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT folks.

You and your classmates were not selfish with your grief, but generous in opening your hearts and your voice to children and adults throughout this country across lines of race and gender, religion and class, lifestyle, age and life experience. Sharing this grief becomes a cornerstone in healing for you and for us all.

I love you, Emma Gonzalez

I confess I did not see you in DC on Saturday. I only saw the tape. But I knew you would understand. I was in Jersey City, responding to your call for Save Our Lives marches in local communities because you knew that was where real change will come. We marched with our daughter and her two children–three generations chanting “Protect Kids, Not Guns” and bathing in the hope that their generation and yours inspires in me.

And while we were there, I was reminded of a former time–a half century ago–when my own father joined me in the streets of New York City to protest the Vietnam War. I have said many times since that this was the moment I felt I had become a man because before then, I had always accompanied him in what he believed in, but now he joined me as we sang together, “give peace a chance.” Thank you, Emma Gonzalez, for rekindling that memory. I can only wonder how many young people grew into adulthood because of Saturday’s marches.

You have broken open my understanding of your generation and your movement. Before, I might have had doubts or been hesitant about you and your peers, I am now filled with confidence in the future of our country. You have challenged us to do more than protest–to mobilize, to organize, to vote.

Forgive us, Emma, for the way we’ve screwed things up for you. Forgive our lack of imagination, our apathy, our clinging to worldly demons of insensitivity and greed, our tendency to cast those who are different as “other,” our bigotry and violence, our inability to focus on what’s important and lasting. It is a fragile world we’ve left you and now you must reclaim it from our abuse and neglect. Call us back. Remind us who we are and what we need to do. You have our attention now. You can do this.

I love you, Emma Gonzalez.

Do not turn your back on us. Enlist our help and our support against gun violence and in affirmation of the magnificent mosaic that is the human family. My prayer is that we be in solidarity with you, though just a step behind, acceding to your leadership and trusting where you will lead us. My generation has been adrift for too long. Help us set aside our adult arrogance so we can let the children lead us. Go forward, Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg and Cameron Kasky and Zion Kelly and Yolanda Renee King. May we learn from your example and follow your lead.

I love you, Emma Gonzalez

 

3 thoughts on “I Love You, Emma Gonzalez

  1. To be honest I blanched a bit at the mention of “woman of color” in your otherwise laudable piece — I am by no means an authority on culture but I suspect Gen Z-ers also would pause before employing ethnic designationstions in the 21st century — nonetheless, like yourself, I too was deeply moved by Gonzales’ preternatural dignity during her Save Our Lives presentation.

    Parenthetically, damn to the right-wing trolls who have fake newsed the hell out of Gonzales this past week. That some adults, including RNC officials, would stoop so low goes beyond the pale.

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