Opinion: Students did not take stand on gun issue, Massena resident says
Monday, April 9, 2018 - 9:31 am

To the Editor:

I was waiting for the kids to show up.

I had sat in a theater the night before and saw them put on a great production of "The King and I". They were enthusiastic and obviously hard-working. At the end of the play, their friends in the audience whooped and yelled as the actors came out for their bows. There were adults in the audience, probably many parents, cheering their children on.

The next morning was March 24th, and the March for Our Lives was on. When I arrived at the Massena Town Hall, there were a few women there, holding signs, shivering in the cold. I was welcomed, found a sign and started my small part in March for Our Lives.

But, I was waiting for the kids to show up.

We talked amongst ourselves about why they weren't there. The kids had had a big night the night before. Teenagers like to sleep late on Saturdays. We came up with reasons about why they weren't there yet. Some parents had (in vulgar and foul language) told the organizer that their children wouldn't be allowed to demonstrate. (Those same children that in a few years will be adults, voters, with a need to think critically and make decisions for themselves.) But, we understood parents might not want them to participate with March for Their Lives.

So, why weren't they there on the other side of the street voicing their disagreement with March for Their Lives?

I still believed kids would show up.

One man yelled an opposing viewpoint at us from across the street, but then came over to talk to us. We all talked and discovered we were really on the same "side" after all - none of us wanted assault weapons on the street. We ended by shaking each other's hands and feeling that we had reached out and crossed a "big divide". It felt great.

But, the kids never showed up. Not one student from Massena bothered to take a public stand - on either side of the question.

So, this is addressed to those students. See, this isn't about today or even this issue. This is about your lives. This is about priorities and what's important. If you don't show up with an opinion - even one others might disagree with - then you are evading responsibility, and not only for today. You are setting a precedent for tomorrow - and the day after. You are setting a pattern for your life and the community you live in.

You're not too young to have an opinion. If you watched the news from the March - you saw articulate, passionate, engaged high-school students who have repeatedly shown up. They know it is their life and it will be their world and it's never too soon and you're never too young to believe you can make a difference.

Regardless of what other priorities seem important - next time you have a chance to show up, do so - and take a stand (it doesn't matter on which side of a question you come down on.) Disagree! But take a stand. Have the courage of your convictions. This is your community and your lives.

You are our future leaders. Where were Massena's future leaders on March 24th?

They didn't show up.

Chana O'Leary

Massena