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Thoughts and prayers no more… it is time for chants and hashtags

Thoughts and prayers no more… it is time for chants and hashtags

Thoughts and prayers no more… it is time for chants and hashtags
March 02
15:43 2018

Eva Reinoso Tejada

It’s been almost two weeks since the tragedy of Parkland, Florida happened. I started writing this column the day after, knowing that I would have to change it several times, because new events would take place everyday. At the beginning, I was angry at the “Thoughs and Prayers” crowd. I could almost read between the lines: “We are sending thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of the victims… (and in my head I sounded like: But that is all we are doing, we are not changing anything, because it didn’t affect us directly and we are not giving up anything to help). That is when the wisdom of the hashtags came along with #ThoughtsAndPrayersDoNothing, and I thought: Exactly!

Then came the posts on Facebook of people voluntarily turning in their AR-15 guns to be destroyed, and another guy that sawed his to pieces on a Facebook video. This felt a little better. Why? Because it was a little more than thoughts and prayers. This man, Mr. Pappalardo, explained how much fun it was to shut his AR-15. He said he is not a hunter and he has never pointed any guns to other people, but he was still willing to give up the right to have fun, in order to save some lives. He didn’t say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” like many obtuse gun owners say. This came along the hashtag #OneLess, and I thought: There is hope!

Then came the earthshaking testimonies of the students who lived to tell what happened in Parkland. The talked and talked very well. At rallies, at the White House, with lawmakers. They stepped up to the plate and said: #Enough is #Enough. It was particularly inspiring to hear Emma Gonzalez (@Emma4Change) say, referring to the shooter: “He wouldn’t have harmed these many students with a knife!”. And I said: Amen! However, some people called her and her peers #CrisisActors. That didn’t stop them. It gave them even more strength.

Then we hit a low point when the president (what’s new?) tweeted about arming teachers to act in the case a #SavageSicko attacks again. He also said: “A gun-free school is a magnet for bad people.” And I thought: This shooter was also a kid, and very troubled… you also have a kid, maybe he is troubled. How you dare speak these rancid and low-life words? And I thought: #PresidenteLoco.

Then, in response to the suggestion to arm the teachers, the teachers themselves raised up to the occasion and responded with #ArmMeWith. They would say things like #ArmMeWith books and supplies, #ArmMeWith mental health counselors, #ArmMeWith food for the kids that come to school hungry, etc, etc. Almost as a sad, but Godsent event, an incident involving an armed teacher took place a few days later. And I thought: Ooops, the teachers can mess up with guns too… now what? Kudos for the teachers who spoke up and said that more guns in schools is not the solution.

Then it finally happened. The time to #BoycottNRA came. Companies from a variety of industries decided to stop doing business with the NRA, in the form of canceling discounts for members, sponsorship of their conferences, etc. First National Bank of Omaha, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Allied Van Lines, North American Van Lines, Avis, Budget, Alamo, Enterprise and National Car Rentals, MetLife Insurance, Wyndam and Best Western hotels, and I am probably missing many. Particularly interesting was the decision that Dick Sporting Goods made to discontinue their sales of AR-15s and raised the age required to buy a gun to 21, knowing that they will lose sales for doing the right thing.

As a human being and a parent of a high schooler, I would never wish for something this awful to happen to any parent, child or school, but one thing I have to say: It was not in vein. Things are changing, and this is the time to push for change by not being complacent and forgetting about this in a few weeks. The time for #NeverAgain has come.

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