Resist the Apathy and Fight the Despair

Alan Mathew, News Editor

  On February 14th, 2018, Parkland, Florida lost 17 lives and was changed forever. Following that day, Parkland students led a national movement the likes of which this nation hasn’t seen in quite some time. It inspired countless people to speak up and speak out and was especially remarkable for the response it invoked in America’s student population. Marches and speeches and protests swept across the nation as a multitude answered the call. That was 2018.

   The goal hasn’t changed, but the streets seem an awful lot quieter. As it always does, momentum poses a serious problem. No matter what the issue, people can only devote so much of their time, their effort, and themselves to it before that forward momentum wanes away. Consider this: in the immediate wake of Parkland, Florida lawmakers raised minimum age requirements to buy guys, instituted “red flag” laws, and outlawed bump stocks. 

  The pressure was there, and the government, doing its duty, responded. But there’s only so long the pressure can last, which is a fact that does not go unnoticed by opposing parties. Even as these laws were filed and passed, groups like the NRA contested them and chose to pursue legal courses of action against them. As more and more time passes, the increasingly deafening silence demands responses. If the support for movements like March for Our Lives becomes less and less vocal, other voices, like that of Florida State Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola), becomes more influential. Hill introduced legislation that would repeal provisions from the post-Parkland bills in order to defend the Second Amendment. Most interesting, however, was that he was the first to acknowledge, albeit indirectly, why he was forced to wait months after the original bill was passed. As he said to NBC 6, “On the basis of that tragedy, […] emotional mob rule took over and the students then along with the parents came here and forced the issue.” Now Hill’s proposal isn’t supported enough to make it viable, but in a historically pro-gun Florida government, it’s only a matter of time until we see more and more attempts to push back the steps forward we’ve taken. 

  It’s hard to keep caring at the same, consistent level all the time. Each day poses a new challenge, and as priorities shift, things that you put front and center just a little while ago can end up taking the back seat. The problem is that gun violence isn’t taking a break. To quote the Sun Sentinel, “As lawmakers mulled over how to prevent more gun violence after 17 students and teachers were killed in Parkland early last year, 566 more mass shootings have devastated the country since. The data… includes accidental shootings, domestic disputes and gang violence. It defines a mass shooting as four or more people killed or injured… [including the shooter].” As the good days become rarer and rarer, we can’t allow despair to dominate our hearts, our minds, or our discourse with others. 

  For every soul taxing loss this country suffers in the form of mass shootings, we become that much more desensitized and that much more apathetic. Accepting that cannot be the standard. As repetitive as it must feel the hear, the first step has to be keeping up hope. At the same time, we have to keep caring.

  It puts the possibility of change that much closer to us. In the months since Parkland, over fifteen states have updated and tightened their gun laws and hundreds of thousands have rallied together. The little victories don’t carry the same weight as the tragedies, but they can’t be forgotten either. Change has to be nurtured, and that takes time, so don’t ever be afraid to outline the steps that you can take to shift the narrative back. If you’re not sure about what you can do, check out places like and follow the quintessential rules for individual activism preserve the momentum, get involved, and, if you’re able to, vote. Recognizing that our country is in a state of paralysis isn’t enough anymore. We can’t keep taking two steps back for every step we take forward, so we have to be willing to take steps forward together. Remember Margaret Mead’s words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”