The power of grieving through actions, rather than silence

Photo by Casey Gomez, Student Publications

In the face of tragedy, every person copes with shock and grief in a different way. Some people, quite understandably, withdraw into themselves for careful contemplation and grieving. Some find satisfaction in tears shed. Some spit fire with anger, but still others spin their emotions into action. Today, I want to talk about those who take action. In the wake of every school shooting that our country experiences, there is a public outcry for increased gun control. Government representatives share condolences but largely fail to take action, even if they have always been in support of restrictions on firearms.

The recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., stands out because the survivors are high school students, and they are fighting for themselves. While most do not yet have the power to vote, they are doing what the social media generation does best: they are making their voices heard. They are refusing to grieve silently.

Most impressive and inspiring to me are the ways that people have begun to take action. Students themselves took control of the debate, questioning their representatives in public. Teenagers, instead of hanging out with their friends or finding their perfect prom dress, are spending their time calling their representatives.

Some survivors recently got on a bus to go to Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, to talk face-to-face with their representatives. They emotionally demanded gun control measures in a widely-publicized rally. It does not stop with the students. Gun owners have begun to give up their guns; they have posted videos of themselves sawing their assault rifles in half or dismantling them. I have seen policy makers and average people alike realize that outcries for change in the past have been ineffective and realize that they must think more creatively.

For example, Andrew Ross Sorkin, a writer for The New York Times, brainstormed about the ways that credit card companies and banks might be able to set rules regarding the purchase of firearms with their services. Sorkin mentions that some companies have already been doing this, but calls others to action.

Perhaps thinking out of the box is the only way to solve the problem. Some suggestions being brought to light as alternative solutions to legislation are more feasible than others, but at least people are thinking, speaking and doing. One thing is for sure: inaction will not do it. There is something to learn from the example of the students who survived the Parkland shooting. When we are unhappy with the state of things, we can find comfort and power in taking action to change this state.

There is satisfaction to be found in knowing that your voice is being heard, as these students have found. I understand that plenty of people think it is still too early to be having this debate, but just as many feel like the debate cannot come soon enough. There is more than one way to deal with grief after such a tragedy, and many citizens have realized that nothing will change unless someone speaks up.