A Thank You to the Young for their March of Hope and Resurrection

The student-led March for Life event that was so wonderfully attended by so many eager citizens in Washington D.C. and in so many other cities around the country and the world was a wonderful moment of Hope.  So fitting for this Passover and Easter season. 

Emma Gonzalez stands in silent tears as she observes 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence while addressing the March for Our Lives rally, March 24, 2018 in Washington, D.C. - photo by Chip Somodevilla, ABC News/Getty Images

Emma Gonzalez stands in silent tears as she observes 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence while addressing the March for Our Lives rally, March 24, 2018 in Washington, D.C. - photo by Chip Somodevilla, ABC News/Getty Images

Kudos to the young people who designed and led and spoke at this powerful gathering.  Thank you for speaking from your heart to the hearts of so many of us, elders included.  Thank you for clearing the stage of anyone over 18 years old so that we could all listen to the passion of your generation.  Thank you for challenging politicians to put conscience ahead of money and common sense gun laws ahead of ideological rancor and ranting, for going, as one speaker said, beyond “red” and “blue” posturing to looking at the country as a whole. 

Thank you for calling Senator Marco Rubio out for his selling off the lives of Floridian teenagers (whom he is supposed to represent but clearly puts second place to his love of NRA) for $1.06 each based on the $3 million plus he has taken from NRA.  Behind these smart figures is of course the larger picture: It is thanks to Citizens United that we have this obscene dependence of politicians on the whim of corporations like NRA (and countless others).  Every Supreme Court judge who voted for Citizens United also has blood on his hands as much as the politicians who take the money from NRA to do their bidding.  We need an election system that is free of money dependencies whether from the right or left.  We need a system that is paid for by the peoples’ government and excludes all other money. 

Thank you for calling lazy-minded adults to move beyond hypocritical talk of “thoughts and prayers” to actions and for spelling out what the actions are that can move us beyond military weapons in the hands of everyday citizens and beyond squelching background checks on all gun owners and beyond the recently passed bill that allows mentally disturbed to buy weapons and that invests in assisting the mentally disturbed.

Thank you for bringing morality back into the conversation—as one 11 year old black girl wisely said, “we know what is right and wrong.”  (Many politicians seem to conveniently forget that.)  And Thank You to the speaker who declared, “this is a moral issue, not a red vs blue issue.”  Would that the kept congress people could utter such a sentence and mean it and prove it by his/her actions and votes.  Thank you to the 11 year old boy who reminded us that “I deserve to grow up” and that there is such a thing as “the things that matter.”  Might our politicians meditate on those two sentences for a while--What things DO matter?  What things matter MORE than being re-elected?  And thank you for the youth who said “this is not OK” when speaking of the dangers our children face in schools and on the street due to lack of smart gun restrictions.

Thank you to Emma Gonzalez for daring to lead people in a 6+minute silence to taste and feel the time it took the shooter in Parkland to murder 17 persons and injure many more.  In doing this extended silence she courageously rendered many people in the audience ill at ease—but that is the point, isn’t it?  To get out of our ease at hearing and re-hearing the unacceptable news of still another school (or church or movie theater or Las Vegas parking lot) mass shooting..  In daring to go into extended silence this young woman was leading a grief experience with us all.  We all need to grieve and from that grieving (as in the Passover event and the Good Friday/Holy Saturday events) comes new life, courage, imagination, movements.  In other words, Resurrection.

Thank you to Jennifer Hudson and those who invited her to sing for her stirring rendition of Bob Dylan’s “The Times they are A-changin.”  Speaking as an elder who was affected deeply by that same song and powerful words at a time of protest against the Viet Nam War in the 1960’s, I can say I found it a well-chosen piece to connect the oldest and the youngest generations today.  The times are always a-changin and in need of changing. This kind of intergenerational inspiration and wisdom is so needed. 

The young need to lead.  The old far too often and easily fall into cynicism—we see it in the media, in our politics, in our pulpits, in our schools.  Let the young lead for we all felt it yesterday—there is energy and clarity and courage there.  And they are leading from their sorrow and grief and that is an authentic place to lead from. They are dealing admirably with that first level of grief—anger—and instead of sitting on it or denying it or pouring it exclusively into outrage they are employing it as an energy to organize and speak out and register voters and educate the older ones about the stakes at hand.  Bravo!

In my autobiography some time ago I wrote about the need for a “preferential option for the young.”  These young people yesterday demonstrated the truth of that proposition—the young are less entangled in the corruption and cynicism of our tired institutions and the tired shibboleths we mutter to defend them; they are less invested in the past.  Therefore, as so often happens, the Spirit finds a more ready home in which to dwell and stir things up among the young.  Of course they cannot nor do they want to do it all alone.  They want and deserve the participation of the older ones, mentors and elders alike.  We need intergenerational wisdom where wisdom flows from young to old and back again.  We need the moral awakening of the young.  Hopefully this will come to bear on all our elections in the future.  This too is Resurrection.

One final point: While the young spoke out clearly and forcefully from their hearts and heads about the travesty that passes for law making in our time, they chose a specific topic to address: Gun safety.  This because they were deeply affected directly and indirectly for at least the past 17 years ever since Columbine.  And that is right and appropriate that they addressed that urgent and personal issue.  They showed how to mobilize and how to instruct and how to awaken all ages, classes, ethnicities around that pressing cause. 

But one hopes—and this will be for the future—that that same energy and outrage, anger and passion, will rise also from the young to wake up the older ones and our dying institutions around equally and even more perilous goings on such as climate change for example.  While teen agers are not huddling in a mass sending good bye messages to their parents about climate change like they had to do for an extended time while the shooter roamed the hallways in the Parkland High School, in many ways they ought to be.  The attack is less visible and less dramatic than a 6+minutes of weapons firing, but it is not less deadly.  In fact, climate change will affect far more numbers than can fit into a school in its devastation and capacity to kill off agriculture and plant life and waters and cities near the waters and numerous species that will be rendered extinct and more and more extreme weather systems of hurricanes and tornados that will affect us all. 

So the teen-led March for Life is, as they instructed us, just a “beginning.”  This is a beginning of a Moral Awakening one can hope, one that awakens all adults along with the youth, one that turns the narcissistic plunge our species has engaged in for so long into a different direction: A search for the Common Good, for community, for Justice, for Compassion which of course begins with passion.  Which the youth have exhibited in abundance.  This too is another Resurrection.  A marvel to behold.  A Waking Up that results in wise action. 

There is much to come.  Our politics need never be the same again.  Something may have died this weekend.  Call it indifference.  Call it cynicism.  Call it not caring.  Call it adultism and the tired old goats that supposedly serve us in a supposed democratic system but in fact serve idols and false gods of mammon and greed and power that are so dead they are rotting right before our eyes.

Youth leaders: You have turned your grief and anger into right action and leadership.  Despair into hope.  Good Friday into Easter morning.  Exodus into Passover liberation.  We adults are grateful and awakened.

If this isn’t Resurrection, what is?

The ONE Sure Way to Stop Future School Killing Atrocities...

...And Not with Sissy Promises of "Thoughts and Prayers"


As a spiritual theologian who has written at length on prayer and spirituality and on the mystics and prophets who know something about prayer, I am sick and tired of the insult that is hurled at prayer every time a politician stands up to shed tears over gun violence in schools (or night clubs or concerts or churches, etc. etc) while behind the scenes he is in bed with the NRA.  

Yes, I mean you, Governor Scott; Yes, you, Marco Rubio; Yes, Paul Ryan; Yes, President Trump.  Yes, Yes to all you sissies who as are as deceitful and full of lies (such as “I love my children and grandchildren and fear for them in school”) as you are of sentimental piety feigning as religion.  

You are sissies because you are afraid of losing your job and your status, i.e. your next election, should you dare to have the courage (yes, the balls) to stand up to the NRA.  

Photo: Michael Bedell-Grefe    Huffington Post

Photo: Michael Bedell-Grefe  
Huffington Post

(By the way, is it true that Putin & Co. illegally funneled money through the NRA to help the Trump campaign[1] in the last election?  We citizens would like Congress to research that fact ASAP to help save what is left of our democracy.)  

You NRA puppet politicians, thanks to the investigative work of Bess Kalb[2] and watchdog journalists and commentators at the L.A. Times[3], New York Times[4], Fortune[5], among others, the facts are out about where your first love lies.  It is not with children of America, nor with their parents and grandparents, siblings and relatives, who are in mourning and will grieve the rest of their lives for their young ones gunned down by American citizens armed with military weapons altogether legally (thanks to you and your political priorities).

Let us review the facts that Bess Kalb and these others have gathered--as opposed to the sick, sentimental, religious pieties--around gun control in America among our so-called political leaders who, being moral midgets and religious hypocrites, think we citizens are so stupid that we are impressed by your crocodile tears and pseudo-religious mutterings about “thoughts and prayers.”  

Hypocritical prayers are not prayers.  They are lies.

Fact # 1: Marco Rubio, senator from Florida, voted against banning assault weapons and has received $3,303,355 from the NRA and holds a A+ rating in backing NRA over the years.

Fact #2: President Trump received $21,000,000 from NRA for his presidential campaign.

Fact # 3: Senator Rob Portman of Ohio received $3,061,941 from NRA.

Fact # 4: The Republican Party headquarters received $17,385,437 from NRA in the 2015-1016 election cycle alone.

Fact # 5: Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa received $3,124,273 from NRA.

Fact # 6: Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina received $4,418,012 from NRA.

Etc, etc, etc.  

These people and the many like them have blood of children on their hands.  But they do not stand alone by any means.  

Each Supreme Court judge who voted for Citizens United has the blood of these children massacred in Florida (and the eight other school shootings[6] since Jan 1, 2018 and those before) on their hands too for buttressing a system that reduces a so-called democracy to pay and play and gives corporations like the NRA the right of personhood and along with it so much more power over the choice of voting citizens.

The ONE WAY to stop the killings is not just to blow the whistle on the hypocrisy of these politicians and judges and their calling for “thoughts and prayers,” insulting as that is to people who actually pray and think.  The cause of this pathological culture is obviously the gluttony for money and the power it can buy in a so-called democracy that is no longer a democracy but an oligarchy of the rich (and those who are desperate to serve the power holders to save their political skins).  

The one solution to gun violence is a constitutional amendment that disavows money in elections.  We need public funding of our elections to send the NRA and all other corporations slinking back to doing what they consider their jobs. It’s time they quit making whores (not to insult sex workers, I apologize to them) of our politicians.  This means that Citizens United must be repealed—and Yes, we must call out the Supreme Court judges led by Chief Justice John Roberts for passing that abysmal legislation and see to it that the NRA does not choose our judges in the future by buying off the politicians who give them their positions.  

Common sense gun laws that render military weapons unavailable to non-military persons and that are favored by an overwhelming number of Americans cannot happen until the entire sick money-driven political system in America is dismantled in favor of public funding that thereby eliminates the capital that is swamping voting.  

According to the brilliant study by historian Nancy MacLean, Democracy In Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, the goal of the radical right (read NRA and Koch brothers, et al) is “to save capitalism from democracy—permanently.”   Theirs is “a quest to ensure the supremacy of capital[7] and this comes about not just by changing our politicians or who rules and makes decisions but by changing the rules.  Which is of course where lawyers and courts and judges come in, abetted by legislators.  The sum total of this political movement and its “shrewd long game” -- which has been in progress for decades and is reaching a climax in today’s version of the Republican Party -- is “a return to oligarchy”[8] where power is concentrated in the hands of the few.  Not government of the people, by the people and for the people, but government of the few, by the few, for the few.  

But the few who are most financially powerful are not the only ones who can change the rules.  That is what a movement to add a constitutional amendment to get money out of elections can also do.  A movement of the many, those many who still believe in or yearn for a government of, by and for the people.  

One hopeful sign emerging from the carnage in Florida school shooting is the wisdom of the teenagers of the school who are calling on Congress to do something and quit insulting their intelligence with appeals to so-called “thoughts and prayers.”[9]Let the young lead this crusade to dismantle money on our politics!  Let them lead the march to congressional offices and to the social media—let the moral outrage of the young awaken the tired cynicism of our fat politicians and cynical Supreme Court judges who are willing to sell not only the young but whatever is left of our democracy down the drain for a pat on the head from NRA and Koch brothers and their ilk.  

The young were leaders in that moral revolution called the Civil Rights movement.  They filled the jails; they manifested both courage and generosity for a value that mattered.  Let them lead this new moral revolution as well.

The late monk Thomas Merton wrote over fifty years ago the following observation about guns in America.

    Man begins in zoology

    He is the saddest animal

    He drives a big red car

    Called anxiety….

    Whenever he goes to the phone

    To call joy

    He gets the wrong number

    Therefore he likes weapons

    He knows all guns

    By their right names

    He drives a big black Cadillac

    Called death….[10]

It is the lack of joy, the dominance of cynicism, the omnipresence of anxiety, the scarcity of love and of meaning that ultimately leads us to love affairs with guns and with death.  This too is work that needs doing.  Are there politicians and would-be politicians out there who want to put love first?  Like the hero teachers did at the Florida high school in taking bullets for their students?  

Who are willing to put biophilia before necrophilia?  Life before death?  Love before hate?  Joy before cynicism?  

We are waiting for you—not to lead but to follow the grass roots revolution that is coming.








[7] Nancy MacLean, Democracy In Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (NY: Viking, 2917), xxxi.

[8] Ibid., xxviii, xxxii.


[10] 4 Thomas Merton, The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton (NY: New Directions, 1977), 624-626.  Cited in Matthew Fox, A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey (Novato, Ca: New World Library, 2016), 178.