Sharing the pain and the fear

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Many of you reading this editorial will remember how we, as school kids, prepared for danger.

Fire drills were refreshing interruptions from classwork as students would respond to alarms by marching out of buildings in orderly fashion.

The threat of nuclear attack made many of us intimately familiar with the undersides of our desks and the cold, hard hallway walls.

Different weather phenomena generated various safety precautions, as those who grew up in Tornado Alley or flood-prone zones can attest

But did you ever think for a moment that someone with a gun, maybe someone you know, would enter your school and unleash a storm of death? Wasn’t your school building one of the safest places you knew, overseen by adults who commanded the universe, who protected you from an unpredictable and sometimes frightening world?

Our grandchildren and children would likely give anything to exchange their reality with ours. With the threats of fire, weather and nuclear attack very much still in play, perhaps exacerbated through climate change and international political instability bordering on insanity, this generation is burdened with a level of stress we never imagined, let alone confronted. That they are interconnected through the World Wide Web brings them much closer to one another than we ever were; closer in ways inspiring and terrifying.

Time for some of us older folks — and it starts right here with the writer of this opinion piece — to shut up and listen to these kids, to try to understand what they think and feel, to walk if not a mile, at least the length of their high school hallways, in their shoes.

On March 14 at 10 a.m., many of them will march.

Let’s see where those steps take them.

Maybe we can go, together.

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