"If you're going to throw the big ball, you should be ready to catch the big ball." This is the wisdom of the school yard as well as the way my family has learned to treat each other when the tone or rhetoric shifts, playfully or otherwise. Be prepared.
I say this because I don't know if every survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had this in mind when they took on the role of becoming advocates for gun control. In the month and a half that has passed since the blood was shed in Parkland, Florida, voices have been raised, marches have been made, walkouts have occurred. Media stars have been generated.
I am sure that the path to meme for most of these teenagers would have been much longer or at least much quieter if not for the tragedy that occurred at their school. It is a rare seventeen year old who wishes for a light to shine on them. And yet, when those cameras turned on and the doors to the town hall meeting opened, we all made mythical figures out of these adolescents.
And, as terrible irony would have it in Yahoo News headlines, they have become "targets." Targets of pundits and writers and politicians and talking heads who have the relative safety of their comfort and age from which to speak. And photo shop. One of the nastiest bits of such manipulation has included doctoring a picture of Emma Gonzalez to make it appear as though she is tearing the United States Constitution in half. No matter that Emma has taken great pains to say that she is not anti-gun but is in favor of banning assault type weapons for civilians along with high capacity magazines as well as a stronger system of background checks before weapons can be purchased. This high school girl, along with her classmates, have become lightning rods for the right wing.
Minnesota Representative Mary Franson made a series of Facebook posts that compared the kids in the March For Our Lives to Hitler Youth. It seems as though the only Nazis that she might tolerate are those who actually declare themselves so. Our friends over at InoWars put up a video that overlaid images of a speech given by Adolph Hitler and its attendant rally over the crowd and speeches given last weekend in Washington D.C. All of those posts have since been deleted, having made their ugly point and the makers have slunk back into the darkness.
Meanwhile, the teenagers who found their voices after being shot at continue to press their cause. They seem to understand the game better than most of the adults who have seen fit to challenge them, very few of whom have any common experience of being shot at. My guess is that the courage these young men and women maintain is the super power they have been given, not something they asked for, but giving in a fiery blast they are only now beginning to comprehend. These are heroes and should be afforded the same dignity and respect that anyone with the courage of their convictions is given. I'm not suggesting that we should take it easy on them. I'm suggesting that we should all be ready for when they start throwing that big ball.