I don’t think I’ve thought about this since it happened about 20 years ago.
It was an early dismissal day and I was walking home from school. My buddy and I were just talking, probably about video games, when we saw the parked truck move from side to side. Then we heard screaming.
“Who’s that in there?”
We saw him hit her. Then he slapped her. Then he hit her again. A flurry of open hands and fists were raining down on this girl, my age, from a grown man. She fought back but what, really, could she do?
All the kids that were around just stood there. Frozen.
After what seemed like an eternity, one girl, who some would probably describe as a troublemaker, yelled out, “Why isn’t anyone doing anything???”
“We’re just kids! We can’t do anything!” one person yelled back.
The troublemaker books it back to the school while the yelling and fists continued in the parked truck.
A school official comes running out, with his walkie-talkie in hand, but by that time it was all over. The yelling, the swings, the crying, all stopped. The only evidence was the tears of the girl.
I don’t know what happened to her or the man but I’d probably be right if I said absolutely nothing good came out of that.
On February 14, 2018, tragedy struck at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with a shooting leaving 17 people dead. CNN holds a town hall where students, parents, and teachers have an open conversation on gun control. Student Cameron Caskey asks Marco Rubio if he will continue to take money from the NRA. He doesn’t get a direct answer so he speaks up and asks again. He doesn’t back down.
That’s what I take from this. If you see an injustice, you need to speak up. No matter your circumstance, no matter the situation, no matter your age, speak up.
And you know what? It’s not going to be easy. People in power will try to silence you. People may not want to listen to you. People may try to hurt you. But if you want to see change, speak up. Don’t back down.
I’ll never know what would have happened to that girl 20 years ago had I spoken up. I wish I had the gumption of that troublemaker. That’s a lesson I want to teach my son.
You need to speak up, don’t back down.