They won’t take “no” for an answer

Dear President Trump,

I called it, didn’t I? Golfing at Mar-a-lago trumped being in Washington today for the rally. And last time I checked, you hadn’t even made a statement of your own; there was just a say-nothing squeak from a functionary about how you are prioritizing the safety of our nation’s children. Your true colors are certainly shining through, but they are not beautiful like a rainbow.

You know, though, today is not about you (and neither is tomorrow). Today and tomorrow are about the awesome power of kids and their commitment to life and their ability to make things happen, to shake things up. This morning as I was waiting for my flight to leave DC, I saw an interview with a girl from Parkland who was in DC for the march. The reporter asked her why she thought this youth-led movement would meaningfully impact gun legislation and she calmly told him that her generation is not used to taking “no” for an answer. What a great, honest response this was. And gosh, could I relate. There were dozens (hundreds?) of times I got this kind of response from our daughter growing up and I will admit it was often incredibly frustrating. I don’t know what got slipped into the water that gave our current high school age kids this “won’t take ‘no’ for an answer” attitude, but for all the associated challenges, I think we need to thank our lucky stars they have it.

I also think we need to be thankful that the Parkland kids have helped open up the conversation to include the horrifying racial disparities in risk of gun violence. A young African American woman at the Seattle rally today was carrying a sign that said 10x as many youth of color are victims of gun violence than white youth. As we passed each other, our eyes met and we smiled and nodded “yes” this needs to be known, this needs to be reckoned with, this must not go back underground. You might not know this, but if you are really truly present with someone, a whole lot can be exchanged in a few seconds of eye contact and today I think what we conveyed to one another is “I really see you” and “I really see you seeing me.” It was precious.

These kids who are not used to taking “no” for an answer are helping us all do a better job of saying “yes” to one another.

May we say yes to valuing everyone’s safety.
May we say yes to supporting everyone’s pursuit of happiness.
May we say yes to safeguarding everyone’s health.
May we say yes to putting down guns and making real peace.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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