Stop. Just for a second. I know it’s hard. The news comes at us so fast these days. Stories that, during relatively normal times, would consume us for weeks shoot across our consciousness and then disappear in a flash; like fireworks the next story explodes across our screens while the last one dissipates from our view, and vanishes from our thoughts.
And we move on to next story. And the next. And the next.
But this time, hit the pause button and pay attention to the Florida teens who have found their political voices. Instead of moving on to the next story, focus on the speech that Emma Gonzalez delivered. It was historic and heroic.
While researching stories for my daily newsletter NextDraft, I visit about seventy-five news sites a day. Over the past year, people have regularly asked me how I can take the weight of being immersed in the news (so much of it negative), day after day.
My answer is that I don’t feel the news. I spend so much time reading, describing, and sharing the news, that I’ve professionalized the process of consuming it. My job isn’t to feel the news. My job is to make you feel it.
But I felt that speech by Emma Gonzalez. And a few days — and hundreds of stories — later, I’m still feeling it. In the shadow of tragedy, these young people are making themselves heard. They’re making sure we don’t just move on; not from their grief, not from their rage, and not from this uniquely American story.
Emma and her classmates have called out the failure of the adults in the room. They’ve minced no words identifying the hypocrisy they’ve encountered. They’re not being silenced or exhausted by the cynical and ridiculous arguments used to explain how it somehow makes sense that in America someone can buy a weapon of war and bring it to school.
They know it’s never too soon to have the discussion. They know everything is political. They can see that having the country you want means fighting for it (even when that means fighting through your grief).
The gun-supporting politicians are betting these young people will get tired of this fight. They think these young people will just move on. They’re making this bet because it’s happened time and time again.
We’ve let these kids, and our kids, down — over and over.
But something feels different this time. Something feels like this generation can turn unthinkable loss into a strength we’ve been unable to muster.
Emma, don’t get tired. Don’t move on. Do better than us.