In recent weeks, the #MarchForOurLives has surged to the forefront of national politics, urging students to walk out of their classes and schools for 17 minutes to honor the 17 students who died in the Parkland school shooting recently. However on Facebook, a different trend started with one woman: Kelly Guest. In her post she implored her peers and students to not walk out of schools, but rather to walk up to the outcast. Her post is currently gaining traction with 5400 reactions and over 12 thousand shares.
Why is this sentiment resonating?
The post is spreading, because we all know that we do tend to ignore the outcast. Even in adult life, if a coworker isn’t in the “group” or “cool,” we ignore them and may even seek to avoid them. Mrs. Guest has called attention to this dark reality and, rather than allowing these people to grow inwardly resentful of their fellow man and the state of affairs, she has suggested a radical solution beyond gun control: love thy neighbor.
Take the Parkland shooter for an example of what can happen when a community doesn’t love. This was a young man who from an early age found himself on the outskirts. When he was just three years old, he was diagnosed with development issues. He then encountered incredible trauma at just six years old when he witnessed his father’s death. The Sun Sentinel goes on, calling Cruz “socially awkward,” and a Parkland student, Manolo Alvarez, said that “This kid gets bullied a lot.” No gun control would have stopped him, but perhaps just one friend could have.
Instead of cries for gun legislation, a greater call to action is required. The American Sociological Review estimates that with every ten additional community life organizations there is an estimated 9% reduction in murder and a 6% reduction in violent crime. While this number is significant, it still isn’t enough for the Government to create a slew of programs.
We as individuals, you and I, must step up to help solve this issue and do as Mrs. Guest suggests. We walk up to that person who is eating lunch alone or listen to the story of that kid who causes frequent disturbances in class. Instead of further dividing America with the gun control debate, we could see this tragedy as an opportunity to grow closer, to love more, and to #walkupnotout.
The stats support that this is a more effective way to lessen murder. And now I implore you, instead of walking out, go and walk up.