A Million Little Deaths

To the skeptics and the willingly blind,

Recently, a friend and I was talking about politics and current events and this phrase was uttered:

“I think people are exaggerating. Well, it’s not like the world is going to end.”

Or something to that effect; I don’t remember it word-by-word.

And immediately, it had a gut-clenching effect of hopelessness and frustration on me. The phrase contains a world of privilege that some would sacrifice everything to have.

That simple phrase opened up a chasm of experience between suffering and a TV screen, death and the even voice of a newscaster. The individuals and the statistics used to represent them. The eye-watering emotion of a well-written book and the inert words that you could stop reading at any time… except not everyone is able to “go back to the real world”.

If you’re tired of seeing the news, you turn it off and ignore it and keep on with your days. You don’t want to see suffering, you close the door so you don’t have to hear your parents watching the news. When you walk past people demonstrating or petitioning and you’re irritated they’re wasting your time.

No, these issues aren’t your fault as a common citizen but to numb your awareness is to walk around intentionally blind. To live in a black-and-white world because you couldn’t handle the sensation of colors. Besides, you wouldn’t want others to turn away in your time of need so why would you towards others?

Feel the anger. Feel the sadness. Feel everything when you see broken little bodies coming out of elementary schools, feel everything when you see the bodies of mothers cold over their infants, feel for the village of children where everyone else has been eaten up by War. Feel when you see men treated worse than animals, when women become faceless and when the profit of one trump the good of many.

Of course, the world wouldn’t end. Society and people would carry on but remember: society, laws and rules don’t protect people, rather, it is the people who protect society, the status quo, the law.

When a middle schooler came home to find her mother deported, don’t you think her world ended just a little?

When a man was short $50 on his GoFundMe to pay for life-saving insulin, he literally died. He left behind an ailing mother who also passed away.

When a teenager is forced to give birth to a malformed infant after a rape or a rape survivor has to see her rapist granted custody of her child, feeling less than a worm on the sidewalk, don’t you think their worlds have ended then?

When a parent travels thousands of miles because even the threat of death isn’t enough to make them stay only to see their child die at the doorstep to freedom when they needed to be treated like people but were instead deemed worse than vermin, don’t you think their worlds ended?

These millions of little deaths individually should be worth more than the comfort and ignorant bliss you get from closing your eyes and ears.

It’s not about you, okay? IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! Your discomfort, unease, whatever it is, does not compare to this monumental suffering. It’s doesn’t mean that one has to be consumed with it but the worst one can do is turn their back and become tired. Because, that’s when hope is lost. This devil of fatigue, of mental sleep is so alluring because it feels unfair to feel the burden of suffering you didn’t cause and feel too little to alleviate but even if one in one hundred can bear it and cry out and say “I hear you”, then just in the US, that would be three million voices strong.

So, don’t turn away. Feel every one of these little deaths like pricks on your skin. Let them tattoo you and empower you to act and change a world that isn’t nice.

Thoughts On Our Walkout | Student Responses

In the past decade or so, one of the social movements that have been gaining momentum is the one for gun reform. Most of it, you all already know; it’s been on the news and everyone’s outraged one way or another, understandably or otherwise. It’s been a while since the March 24th and the April 20th Walkout and we see that the continuous publicity from both the continuing school shootings and the actions of the student activists has pushed the issue to the forefront of national news and remains one of the biggest sources of disagreement in government.

Right now, gun reform remains one of the most contentious issues and it’s something that we as young students have a lot of stake in as the instances of weapons appearing on campuses has increased regardless of whether there were casualties in all those instances. Still, this has widespread consequences on our youth. While we may be desensitised to violence in the ghettos of places like Chicago, school shooters aren’t tied to a specific marginalised demographic so not even the gov’t can pretend that it’s because of the moral failings of a specific demographic. They can’t attach the old terms to this type of threat so this is a chink we can use to expose the fallacies they’ve been using to divert attention and sit on their hands for important policy reforms that should be passed when Columbine happened.

Over a hundred thousand students have been directly exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine [link]. Some come away with PTSD, some never go back to school and still others see that they will need to take matters into their own hands.

Amidst the political discourse in this country, even the sacredness of childhood has been violated. It is something that everyone should have in common. It is something everyone should relate to. If you can’t understand how frightening it is to have to have an increased number of drills we’ve had these past few years, the crazy number of security cameras in each hallway — all in a place where we are supposed to grow and feel safe, then you’re an unfeeling human being.

Imagine hearing a loud sound in the school cafeteria or accidentally breaking a beaker in science class and thinking, even for a split second, that it was a gunshot. If it doesn’t change and guns are just as easily available, this is what the future holds while schools become more like prisons with metal detectors and security guards. All so that that one person who does decide to bring a gun to school can’t use it.

A classmate at my school collected some responses from our students after our walkout. These are some things that students at my school have said about it:

What are your thoughts about having this walkout? What effects or changes would you like to see as a result of this event?

Safi Haider, Senior

“I completely respect the students who walkout AND those who choose not to. 2nd amendment rights are a polarizing issue, but they cannot be discussed when both sides are unable to have a calm discussion.

“However, I believe that scheduling the walkout like the school did turn it into an assembly rather than a demonstration. Ideally, I would like to see legislators take steps to ensure that schools are safer, be it through mental health programs or gun control. Although this is unlikely, I would be satisfied if officials at least recognize that students are willing to take actions to support their cause. In other words, I want the government to see that our generation does more than “just complain and do nothing.”

Raeed Zaman, Senior

“I think the walkout is a small but necessary step towards the peace that we all want. Although it may seem as if it’s political significance is minimal, it’s still a baby step that will exemplify the cause. However, there is a common misconception about the purpose of the walkout. People seem to look over the idea of remembering and honoring the people who passed and politicizing the event.

“One change I would like to see as a result of this event is unity. Because of the way politics works in this country, social issues all end up being politicized. Once something is politicized, we stop listening to each other and conform to the ideologies of the party we affiliate to. So instead of uniting to fix the problem together, we are dividing and arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong.

“I hope that this walkout will teach children, adults, and politicians the fact that we all have similar goals but different ways to approach them. I hope that we can find a way to come to a middle ground by reaching out to people who have different viewpoints than us and looking for middle ground rather than shutting those people out.”

Ellen Zhang, Senior

“The walkout is a way for us to physically show that we care and that we will stand out and do things that some adults and Congress aren’t willing to do. If we don’t say anything, then we will just be letting others speak for us. We have voices too and we are the ones being affected the most. If the adults in Congress won’t do the most logical thing to keep us safe, their children and our country’s children safe, then we are forced to grow up faster to do what they couldn’t do for us. This is why we walk out.

“The walk out is for advocating for stricter gun control. Schools are banning backpacks, installing security cameras and setting up security checkpoints because they couldn’t prevent teenagers and those who wish to do harm from acquiring weapons. This is backwards.

“Are we protecting guns from people or are we protecting people from guns? There is no debate on which way it should be. There’s no use pretending that pro-gun-control is anti-democratic or whatever other reason people come up with because democracy should be for the people and by the people. When the people are endangered, those who oppose measures to rectify that are the ones who are anti-democratic. Protect people, not guns.”

Anonymous, Junior

“My thoughts about having this walkout were that it was about time. Throughout the last several years, school shootings have occurred time and time again. Why? Its because significant change has not been made. This walkout, led by students across America, was a way to bring awareness to this issue so that change can occur.

“This walkout gives me hope and this hope is what I and other people need in order to truly make a change in their community -the hope that their actions will contribute to the greater good. Overall, I feel grateful to have this experience. I’m hopeful for changes in gun laws. I hope to see people unite and find a solution to this tough problem.”

To read the whole article, click the link here. The article was written by Madhurya Gajula.

Never let up the pressure. Never forget. Never again.