by RM Allen, May 2018
“She’s got eyes of the bluest skies” is a line in one of my all-time favorite rock songs “Sweet Child of Mine” and today I am going to tell you a story about another child with blue eyes, my niece. Let’s call her Rose or just R for privacy sake.
R is thirteen and a very sweet and civically minded girl. Just after the Parkland school shooting happened she was alone in the same room at her school with an older boy she did not know. He shook in a funny way and told her that he wanted to shoot more people than the Parkland boy did. Although she was shocked and scared, she tried to be compassionate and soothe him. He told her not to tell anyone.
But she did, for she is a school ambassador and that is her “job”. It got her into a sticky situation, and for a couple of days she was scared to go to school so she stayed home. Many adults were franticly mobilized and got the boy some help. At such a young age, she knew to do the right thing. My niece R is a s/hero.
There was another girl who was about the same age as R and just as compassionate. I never met her, but I have her name on a slip of paper. I sat with that slip of paper posted to my office bulletin board for a month just thinking about her, and her devasted family. Slowly she seeped in and kind of became part of me although I didn’t even know what she looked like or anything about her. She was just a name on paper.
You see, I attended a vigil/discussion on the Parkland shooting a week after it happened. Seventeen slips of paper were placed on a table around a lit chalice. Participants were invited to take a slip home with them. On each slip was printed a name and an age. Mine said “Gina Montalto, 14”. It took me a month to get up the courage to Google her.
Her face came out of my computer. Beautiful, slender, brown hair, big smile. I was crushed. I wept. She looked a lot like one of my step-grandchildren of the same age, L.
Then I saw pictures of rows of airline pilots in uniform at her funeral. Her dad is a pilot for United Airlines. The family is crushed. The community is crushed. I feel sick. In my mind I see her (and L.) scared, bleeding, running down a hallway in Florida. I feel angry.
Another young lady from that same hallway has risen from being scared, to being a super s/hero in ripped jeans. This is Parkland’s androgynous Emma Gonzalez: she who weeps compassionately on TV while at the same time channeling her anger and being intensely fierce beyond her years. She has stirred a whole nation out of its complacency.
Because of Emma and her friends, the students in my town called and participated in a local forum after the March for Our Lives protests and 150 townsfolk attended. A panel of local politicians on both sides were called to account on gun safety legislation and mental illness. The NRA dog-whistle phrase “soft target” made me feel sick to my stomach – and drew boos from the crowd.
“Vote them out” was spoken many times on the stage and in the audience. Yes my friends! Find out who takes money from the NRA in your state (or votes along their brain-washed lines), this is easy to do. Then vote them out – and vote in folks who can make common sense reforms like: background checks, licensing, training, safety locks, a complete ban on real and adapted “machine guns”, and etc.
Don’t just sit there and think someone else will handle all this for us and our children. They won’t, it will just be business as usual. Parkland, Santa Fe, your town next, what town will be LAST?? R, L, and all the others need you now. Be the goddess.
And so, I close with a photo of Gina Montalto, and another line from “Sweet Child of Mine”: I hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain…