Six minutes and twenty seconds. It isn’t a long time. It’s not enough time to boil an egg. It’s not enough time to get ready for work. It is such a brief period in our lives that we don’t even think about our day in such small increments of time.
It is, however, all the time it took for a madman to take the lives of seventeen people in Parkland Florida. Six minutes and twenty seconds brought unspeakable horror to the families, friends and colleagues of those who died under a hail of gunfire delivered from a weapon of war, bought legally by a teenager who could not legally buy a beer in Florida.
That brief, almost unnoticeable part of a day changed this country. Today, on March 24th, I saw first-hand how this change is taking shape. And perhaps, this time, a difference will be made. I had the honor to march with many of my fellow Texans in Fort Worth as we, like countless cities across the nation joined with those in Washington DC to raise our voices and cry, “Enough!”
In Washington DC, a crowd reportedly numbering around 800,000 people walked together, they sang together, and they cried together. They listened as speakers, many whom were survivors of the shooting at the high school in Parkland Florida, raised their voices with righteous anger that they will no longer tolerate this insanity. These were voices of children, many touched directly by the Parkland massacre because they were there. Others, survivors of gun violence from Chicago, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and other cities across the land spoke with anguish of the brother lost or the friend severely wounded by gun violence. These voices spoke not only with pain but with hope. They spoke with determination and purpose. They spoke truth to those who hold power but fail to act. Their messages were filled with a wisdom that belied their age.
I am both inspired by these children’s words and ashamed of my generation’s inaction. For it is my generation who has failed to stop the madness. It is the acquiescence by our lawmakers to the powerful out of fear losing an election or the adoption of some perverted philosophy that tells us guns are not the problem that stalls action and allows the carnage to continue. It is the inaction of the voters who put those lawmakers in office to fight for the change so desperately needed.
Somehow our generation has become convinced this problem is unsolvable. It has been said by many that this issue is too complex or too difficult to overcome. Excuses are offered along with anemic thoughts and prayers while more people die. The excuses are bountiful and frequent. They appear like leaves fallen from a tree that cover the path toward a resolution. It is time to sweep away those excuse as one would when sweeping the leaves away from the path. It is time to remember that we have an obligation that those who come after us are to be given a better world, not one infected with chaos, tragedy and inaction.
These children speaking today have reminded us of what this country could be. They reminded us that we can redeem the collective soul of this nation by working together to make sure “Never Again!” isn’t just a slogan on a sign or a chant at a rally. It is a reality brought about by a people who care more about people than bullets, more about the future than profit, and more about our kids than an election.
I am proud of the people I marched with today in Texas. I’m proud that our country rallied together across the nation for this day. I’m optimistic that this problem is solvable. I’m energized by these young people. I am convinced we all can see the day where we are rallying to celebrate the fact that we can’t remember the last time a child was killed by a gun.
Our young leaders speaking so eloquently today have given us our direction. Let’s heed these calls. Let’s stop making excuses. Let’s demand and deliver action so we never, ever have to talk about six minutes and twenty seconds in this context again.