A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Opinion

It is time to prioritize policy over prayers

That day — there was blood on the floor. There was blood on their hands, but there was blood on ours too. We could not end it before it was too late. Because in the fight between “protection” and peace, they were somehow caught in the crossfire.

In all this bickering and noise over what matters more, we lost sight of what mattered most. They were not dressed in maroon and silver, but instead black. They had to trade their caps and gowns for satin lined coffins and heavy hearts.

Heavy hearts — Heavy hearts that should’ve been filled with love that day. Hearts that should’ve gushed for the warmth of a hug, or the thrill of a kiss. Hearts that should’ve beat in an intense staccato, not die out into silence. But those hearts gushed onto floors because of bullets aimed at chests. Their breaths should have been taken away by acts of love, not stolen by acts of violence.

On a day of love, students were forced to watch as the life drained out of their friends’ eyes. Their feet trailed blood down hallways. Their future crumbled in their hands. Refuse to stay silent for those who can’t speak, but at this point what would they say?

“I’m sorry you lost your best friend, but at least I didn’t lose my guns”

“I’m sorry your homecoming king couldn’t come home, but if there was a gun in every household, we would be safe”

“I’m sorry the marching band couldn’t bare to walk anymore, but banning guns isn’t the next step.”

The art teacher’s canvas were painted crimson, the choir was. But in this silence, all anyone wanted to say was “my thoughts and prayers.” My thoughts and prayers? When they falls to their knees, why do we have to fall on ours too? When will we provoke change, instead of waiting around for someone else to do it for us?

Sutherland Springs took away our courage to worship. Pulse Nightclub took away our courage to love. Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and now, Stoneman took away our courage to grow. But these places always seemed miles away — Until it happened in our own backyard, and yet we still haven’t learned.

But how can we learn when classrooms have become cemeteries? When campuses have become graveyards? When playgrounds have become memorial parks? When I’m left with no air in my lungs, will you continue to waste the air in yours, bickering about change that never happens? So when I have to witness the death of my friends in front of my own eyes, will you have to witness mine too, played on repeat on every news channel?

So when my heavy heart begins to bleed, will you simply “send your thoughts and prayers” to heal it? So when i fall to my knees in the corner of a classroom, will you fall to yours, praying for this to never happen again? Again? Or will we learn to stand and
fight for those who couldn’t and for those who still can?

Thoughts and prayers, no more. Policy over prayers.

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