It's lasted for so many years
Don't let the light go out
Let it shine through our love and our tears
——Peter, Paul and Mary
We are a country of people who thrive on hope. We need to believe that tomorrow will be better than today. It gets us through our bad days and makes our good days better. It drives our political wagon. Although it wasn’t the only thing he had going for him, I believe the fact that Bill Clinton came from Hope, Arkansas put him over the edge. His campaign was smart enough to use headlines like, "It's a story as old as the American dream, and it begins in a small town called Hope,” and who could compete with that?
I was at a concert this past weekend, and the headliner finished the show with Lee Greenwood’s hit, God Bless the USA (I’m Proud to be an American), and as everyone stood and sang along, I felt the same pride it always brings to me. Even though I am horrified and embarrassed at some of the things my country has seemed to represent this year, I realize that no other country would allow its people to speak about their frustrations in such an open manner.
Our constitution, in its old-fashioned way, allows us to worship, write and speak in the manner that we see fit. It protects us from tyranny and each amendment allows us to grow as a country. The immigrants who flock to our country do so to obtain these rights that many of us take for granted. It gives them hope. Who can blame them for risking everything to live in a country filled with people who march (and are permitted to march) so that all people will feel safe in their country.
When I stood and sang along with that song I realized that I am feeling hopeful. For the first time in many years I am seeing a spark of activism exactly where we need to see it...in today’s young people. The horror that the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School students faced on Valentine’s Day is one no person, let alone child, should ever face, but if we can salvage anything of worth from this tragedy, it is the awakening of a youth movement. These kids are strong, committed, well educated and ready to fight. I am proud of them, and I will support them. They are fighting with the greatest weapons known to man...words. They are not radical. They are not trying to destroy all guns and trample on the second amendment. They are speaking up for common sense laws, and our Florida legislature is listening.
The bill that they are trying to pass is far from perfect, but it is a step. I don’t think librarians, counselors, etc should be armed, and I do think semi-automatic weapons should be banned, but this bill is a compromise. It is a start that would not have happened if Emma, Cameron, David, Jaclyn and the rest of these strong survivors hadn’t used their heartache to foster hope for a safer tomorrow.
I have hope because a very large majority of our country listened to these children and the hundreds of thousands of young people who joined their cause. I have hope that this majority will push their representatives to do the right thing, or vote them out. The second concert I saw this week featured Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. I sat in the audience and felt the same belief that we can change the world that I did years ago when the three of them sang the words my heart felt. When he sang Light One Candle I realized the words were as meaningful and important now as decades ago, when they were written.
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker's time is at hand
I have hope because I believe our children are lighting the candle and showing everyone the wisdom found in peace.
This week Phillip Margolin’s book, The Third Victim hit the bookstores, and you are all in for a treat. As always he takes us into the recesses of the darkest minds of criminals while showing us the bravery and resilience of those who fight them. I couldn’t put this book down.
As always a complete review of this book follows this blog.