I am writing this post on the morning after the March For Our Lives event. It is one of those movements that I feel can go either way: either it will be the turning point in this country over the gun control issue or it will be another heartfelt but ineffective attempt. I hope and pray that it will be the former. Listening to those who spoke and reading the various commentaries I am impressed with the young people who organized the event. Their clear headedness in speaking the truth with simplicity, in noticing both the problem and the solution reminds me of the Hans Christian Anderson's tale "Emperor's New Clothes". It was a child who saw that the "new clothing" was no clothing at all and that the emperor was naked. It is the young people who point out the obvious problem with guns, having firearms in schools, and trying to solve our disputes with items other than our words.
We spent this past weekend at our son's apartment in Alexandria Virginia. When visiting I like to look at the local paper. There was an interesting article talking about the town's civil right's story. During the town's segregated past, a school cook joined a federal law suit to allow her children to attend a whites-only school. Ms. Blois Hundley a mother of eight, attended a local PTA meeting where they asked people to raise their hand to join the lawsuit. Ms. Hundley wasn't thinking to cause any problems for herself or anyone else. She just raised her hand wanting black children to have equal education as their white counterparts. Because she had joined the lawsuit, her employer the school board fired her from her job even though her performance there was exemplary. She needed the money to support her children, but she didn't waver in her decision and was instrumental in changing the education system for Alexandria.
After her firing, the owner of a local newspaper, a Mr. Philip Stern, knocked on her door to cover the story. Not only was the gentleman a business man but he was also a noted philanthropist. He was outraged by her unfair treatment and so hired her as the personal cook for his family where she worked for over thirty years. According to Ms. Hundley's daughter, their family was often included in activities with the employer's family. She remembers being taken out with the other children to go ice-skating. When the proprietor refused the young girl's admittance due to the color of her skin, Mr. Stern turned and said if she couldn't come in, then no one in his family would go in either.
What I love about Ms. Hundley's story is how a simple act of raising one's hand, changed the course of public and private history. The town finally did what was right by all its inhabitants. Both families- the Sterns and the Hundleys were changed in how they view each other and the world around them.
It is like the simple act of the teenagers who are speaking up against gun violence. There is no complex agenda, no placating different sides of the issue, no wringing of hands over ineffectiveness- just simply, calmly, speaking the truth about what one is noticing.
Just like Ms. Blois Hundley. She raised her hand in recognition that things were not right and that they could be better.
When opportunities arise like that, do we over think our reaction or do we just go with the flow? Are we willing to live with consequences of our decisions? Do we/ should we think too much about it?
Are we willing to do the simple thing in order to do the right thing? Are we willing to raise our hands?