Jim Taylor: You can’t make this up: Youth lead the way with power of hope

Published 11:19 pm Saturday, March 17, 2018

We cannot make up this up! I lose 55 of my 73 years, a flash of encouragement from a quarter I never expected. I startle, feeling the power of the young filled with such hope. I was moved by Wednesday’s students across the country. I have watched so much dysfunction over the years about guns, killing for many reasons, war, in fiction, films, games, on TV, I have come to think our culture has been hijacked by guns and their usage.

I spent just under 10 years in the U.S. Navy, advanced to a senior petty officer and was trained by a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant in gun safety. The rules were incredibly consistent and are with me today, 50 years on. New purchases for any weapon must become the rule. A jobs builder, for certain.

I did use a weapon a few times, accompanied by the gunny’s vivid words: “Remember, this is a tool, a forever weapon and tool. Never pull or use this weapon without being prepared for the consequences to you and/or where it is pointed.”

There is little in contemporary culture convincing me we understand this, politically certainly, nor culturally as exhibited by our behavior across all boundaries of basic rule. Hard to learn the lessons life sometimes throws.

I lost a child at a very young age many years ago. Those events were not caused by a gun, but it broke my heart to hold my innocent child in my arms, wife beside me, and know nothing would ever be the same. The scars are distant, but the memory is vivid, still moves me to tears. Losing a child is a terrible thing and no person must experience this — certainly, never because of a gun.

I am encouraged by these children — have never felt so hopeful adults might help, take action. My desire is to fill the air with new energy. I see a clear course ahead now. Kids of school age deserve an overwhelming imperative to never see innocent students die because of another troubled soul. My pledge is no more votes for guns.

If not for them, for our own safety, civilians do not need assault weapons. Trauma surgeons compared wounds from assault weapons recently (in the New York Times), and found that muzzle velocity, caliber and range caused the bullets from such weapons, to destroy so much in human bodies, as to be terrifying. These weapons are appropriate on the battlefield, not on our streets.

Our culture requires resetting our compassion thresholds, even as selfish and selfless exist almost simultaneously. What would it take to change?

Perhaps it starts with the bravery children are exhibiting. If you are a parent, pat yourself; these are your awesome children, stepping up to adulthood with considerable dignity, thought, skills and more than a little bravery.

Remember, you can’t make this stuff up. We are adults —what can each of us do?

Jim Taylor is a Salisbury artist.