I know talking about politics is risky, but I believe it's worth the risk.
I believe it's important.
I believe we can have effective conversations surrounding political matters.
I believe we can communicate in a healthy, powerful way.
I believe minds can change.
I believe hearts can be moved.
I believe people can listen well.
I believe we need to be learners.
I believe we should step outside our day-to-day comforts to be a part of change.
I believe we need to have conversations about topics that are uncomfortable.
I know I’ve been changed by people who talk about political things.
I know there’s power in conversation.

+ + +

Today, I find myself caught up in the stories, newscasts, social media posts surrounding the Stoneman Douglas shooting. Today, I'm diving into the conversation.

But, I want to say that I’m embarrassed about something. I’m embarrassed that when I got the text from Everytown about the Parkland shooting on Valentine’s Day — a text list I chose to subscribe to in the wake of the Vegas shooting — I paused, thought “Oh no, Jordie did you hear about that?” and then moved on. I don’t know if it’s that I’m overwhelmed, or if it's selfishness or helplessness or apathy. I don’t know what caused me to go unphased, but I’m embarrassed that I did.

Before yesterday, I hadn’t seen many responses to this school shooting on social media. I hadn't heard anyone talking about it around me either. So while I’m embarrassed about my response, I’m also guessing I wasn’t alone in my initial reaction to this tragedy.

But I did see a little something on Twitter. One particular tweet about the Stoneman Douglas high schoolers got my attention; everything changed when I watched Emma Gonzales’s speech.

What. A. Powerhouse.

I cried watching and then found myself resonating with all the Twitter comments in the thread that followed.

I was hit with the reality that these are high schoolers with an experience that will never be undone.
These are high schoolers who've faced an unfathomably horrendous experience. 
These are high schoolers who will never be the same.
A surge of hope rose up in me as I realized that they'll never be the same, but neither will America, because since February 14th, the students who lived through this awful situation decided to fan the flames of their grief into a stronnng message, and they're moving their message along in mighty ways already.

I felt overcome with a sense of admiration and respect and wanted to hear more and learn more from them. They’re so bold, so brave, and while I’m overwhelmed by how terrible it is that this is part of their stories, I’m really hopeful about the way they’re letting it motivate them to enact the change they desperately want to see. I hope they give themselves space to grieve, but if this is how they want to, then I’m all about it. I hope they fight on. And I hope we support them.

This my way of doing so: It’s to keep talking about it and run the risk of stirring the pot. It’s to promote them. It's to share their stories, their hopes, their ideas. This is my small way of amplifying their voices. I’m choosing to re-engage in the conversation because I have a choice. I don’t have to stay embarrassed about my initial response; instead, I can do something I’m proud of. Do my research. Learn both sides. Call legislators. Embrace our democracy, as broken it may be. Stay hopeful and fight for this to never happen again, because like David Hogg, another powerhouse Stoneman Douglas student said in an interview with TIME,

“We’re the children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action. Work together. Play a role. Come over your politics. And get something done.”

Let’s be adults they can look up to. Let’s be adults who learn from them.

Maybe this is all really overwhelming to you. I get it. I think that makes sense. Or maybe you’re desensitized. Or maybe you feel helpless. Maybe you’re in a season where you feel like you can’t take on any more grief. Maybe you’re maxed out on causes to care about because you’ve already let your heart break for so many. But maybe, you’re feeling broken-hearted over this particular tragedy and cause and maybe it’s reignited a desire in you to learn, to engage, to see efforts being made toward ensuring this doesn’t happen again.

I’m the furthest thing from being an expert on gun reform and I'm confused about a ton of the suggestions, incessant logical fallacies, and politics of it all, but I will say I’ve personally been very impacted by those fighting in favor of gun control, which as far as I understand is defined as "the set of laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of firearms by civilians.” 

I’m trying to remain open-minded to the variety of perspectives. I’m trying to keep learning. I’m trying to figure out what my next steps should be. At this point, what I do know for sure is that I’ve been moved by the Stoneman Douglas students and I'm compelled by their stories and perspectives. (Ps. Check out their Twitter accounts. They're fire.) I know that I don't know enough to start throwing out solutions, but what I can do is provide a list of the things that have caught my attention so far in hopes that you'll want to check these resources out if you haven't already.

Might I recommend starting with the stories.
As hard as they are to hear, start with the stories of the Stoneman Douglas shooting survivors. 

VIDEO: Samantha Grady, Marjory Stoneman Douglass junior, wounded and lost her best friend
VIDEO: President Trump Holds a Listening Session with High School Students and Teachers
VIDEO: Emma Gonzales Speaks Out
ARTICLE: A week ago, Delaney Tarr was thinking about prom. Now she’s trying to change gun laws.
VIDEO: CNN Town Hall. I highly recommend this town hall with students and parents affected by the shooting. This was very eye-opening for me.
 BLOG POST: Gun Reform: Speaking Truth to Bullshit, Practicing Civility, and Effecting Change by Brene Brown
NON-PROFIT: Sandy Hook Promise
MARCH: March for Our Lives, March 24th (in Orange County)
FB POST: From Brene Brown, a Shame & Vulnerability Research Professor, Storyteller, Author, Speaker, Mom, and Licensed Master Social Worker. I’m obsessed with her.

1. Prayer + civic action are not mutually exclusive. Join me in both.
2. Step away from social media coverage and toward real people for support, action, conversation, and being with each other in collective pain. Keep informed, but don't stay glued. Our secondary trauma will not make us better helpers - it shuts us down and sends us into self-protection and blame-finding.
3. Adding this for our kids: All we can do is acknowledge the pain and fear, create space to talk about what's happening in an age-appropriate way, and own our own vulnerability and uncertainty. Also important to put down some guidelines for watching and talking about it. We want them to ask us and depend on our answers, not those of their peers. And, of course, love them as hard as we can.
4. And this news consuming advice from WNYC.


*There's A LOT more on this topic, but this is a start. I believe it's important to navigate the communication element before jumping into the debates about solutions. Since I posted this, I've been learning so much more, so I'll try and do a follow up in the near future.

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”  - Martin Luther King, Jr.

#ParklandShooting #StonemanDouglas #StudentsStandUp #NeverAgain #MarchForOurLives