On Saturday 3/24/18, in hundreds of cities worldwide, there was a march to demand action against gun violence, vividly displaying the urgency and passion from those who attended and are fighting in this political movement.
There are obvious polar sides and opinions to this march and what the real cause is behind why school shootings are even happening in the first place. it is important to remember that no matter what the personal political opinion is that you hold, there is an apparent issue happening in schools across the United States... and school safety really isn't a political issue. I wish that we lived in a world where students, parents and teachers alike never had to worry about the possibility of extreme violence of any kind happening in a place where children should be learning, playing, and growing as individuals... but unfortunately this is the situation that we are currently in. Marches such as the March for Our Lives exist to bring awareness to apparent issues such as gun violence in schools and to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be brought before Congress to address the issues.
So, why is this important to a company that sells jewelry and promotes a healthy lifestyle through yoga and meditation? Well... compassion, ahimsa, non-violence, unity, and oneness has been very important through my whole life. Like everyone else, our individual personalities are sculpted by the circumstances and situations that we go through and encounter in our lives... Especially when we are young.
There is one circumstance in particular that comes into my mind on an almost daily basis, which molded my view on violence altogether. On Thursday, April 24, 2003, I was a fourteen year old eighth grade student at Red Lion Area Junior High School. On this day, my principal was fatally shot in the cafeteria by one of my fellow students, who then took his own life. And it happened in front of the entire eighth grade student body... including myself.
This is not something that I talk about with anyone, really. Since that day, I've done a pretty good job at keeping how I really felt about what happened to myself... but what I had been hiding from the world is just how life-changing this was to me.
I just remember panic, confusion, wondering where my brother was and if he was safe (he was in the school as well, as he is only a year younger than me... in seventh grade at the time). I remember everyone running around, not really knowing what to do. Eventually evacuating the school through an emergency exit, so that we wouldn't be passing by the scene in the cafeteria. Relief passed over me when I got a full headcount of all of my friends and knowing that my brother was safe. Many days passed until we were able to attend school again, and I never felt comfortable being in (let alone eating in) or even walking past that cafeteria ever again.
Although all of my friends walked out of the school that day alive, many of them continued to live life with the baggage of PTSD, anxiety, fear of crowds, etcetera. Personally, I acquired a deep hatred and fear of guns and my parents decided to pull my brother and I out of the school district and moved us to another, leaving my lifelong friends behind in a time where there were no cell phones or social media outlets to keep in touch. I am so thankful for my parents in loving my brother and I enough to take any measure necessary to keep us safe, but the move was difficult for a teen moving from a rural community to a city where she knows no one as a freshman in high school. Long story short, high school ended up being a highlight of my life, but a part of me felt like I ran away from my closest friends that I had known since kindergarten in a time where we all needed one another more than ever.
Fast forward almost fifteen years later, to present day. Two of my friends and classmates, Lauren Beard and Kelsey Lauder coordinate the in Downtown York, PA. Just a few miles from where our lives were changed forever. Fifteen years had placed us in different cities and shaped our lives in immeasurable ways, but Saturday we came together to take a stand against gun violence. I just want to take a moment to personally thank the two of them (and everyone else that helped coordinate the event), as it is a movement that is so close to our hearts. I am unbelievably proud to know you two and am having a hard time putting my gratitude into words. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Not only do these women know that their passions can move mountains, but they transformed a very dark life event into one to create big change for the future... and that is truly admirable to say the least.
It has been said that discomfort is the price of admission for a meaningful life... and these ladies have shown this to be true.