Oh, the pace of change! It’s all too fast these days. The latest we’ve been hearing is that money is going out of style. Not its value. Not the concept. The physical manifestations we’re so used to having:  bills and coins. “Cash is king” was the old saying. Are you using it less and less? How about plastic? How about a thumb-print?

As always, all topics are welcome:  May flowers, etc.  But we’re really curious about this.  Are you noticing this change, or needing less of the monetary kind? Tell us.

I think March for Our Lives is a much needed and long overdue response to the threat we are asking children to live with daily. It has never been acceptable that automatic weapons are so easily accessible to the public, much less that young people are at risk in their place of education, a supposedly safe zone. For the marches and rallies to truly make a difference, we need to make the movement sustainable. This means keeping the pressure on politicians. Wielding our dollars wisely. Checking where our investments are going. And most of all, making sure that those pressing for change are given as much support as possible. Activism takes a lot of physical, financial and emotional energy – all of which is an overwhelming burden to add to young shoulders. We are each accountable to make sure we are doing our part to lessen the load.

In recent months, I have been struck by what I am calling “The Culture of Disavowal”. Disavowal is a conscious process of knowing something to be true but acting contrary to that knowledge. Denial, on the other hand, is an unconscious process whereby information is not accessible to conscious thought. The difference is quite significant and we can observe it in social media, policy, and social activism. The data on access to guns is clear, that guns in households increases the incidents of suicide, homicide and accidental deaths. While this is widely disseminated information, elected officials and community members elect to operate as though it is not true, giving way to policies that encourage guns in schools as a safety measure, for example. Were we to take action based on information that is known, the results would be quite different. Shared information, whether on climate control or gun violence, would and should foster open dialogue and policies developed based on actual data. So, why is this not happening? Our minds selectively screen out that which does not support our core beliefs, in other words, we disavow input that is not syntonic with what we want to hear. This dynamic is very dangerous and needs to be addressed at every level. It can, and has already contributed to dire consequences in our country. We must confront disavowal at every level in our society and hold people accountable for acting in accord with known and well documented information. Proudly, our young people are looking at what is happening, holding their elders accountable and hopefully in time will vote in accord with their knowledge and beliefs.

Now retired, I taught in a public high school for thirty five years including during Columbine in 1999. Students then did not have cell phones, social media and the voice they apparently do now. When Columbine occurred I think they believed it was one of a kind massacre, that adults would protect them and others from gun violence in the future. Young people today know that did not happen and share the frustration we, who have always been for more reasonable gun control laws, have. With others in my NORC, I shared our views yet again with senator Toomey’s staff (both of whom were too young to experience Columbine personally.) It seems to me that the youth of today must ally themselves with us, and we with them, to make authentic gun control a reality in this country. We know how to organize, we vote, we have some funds to contribute and most of all, we have time to listen to their concerns. We have invited a number of urban and suburban students to our building to tell us their views and in return, we will offer our help. The gun control effort is not new, but will fail again if we expect the youth to go it alone. This nation has a better chance for safety if we sincerely unify around this issue and keep it alive. I hope we do not sit passively and watch the news to see what happens, but proactively support the students and anyone in our circle who wants to talk, and need to register to vote. Thanks for this forum to get our juices flowing and muster the energy to continue to work for a better country. Now is NOT the time to relax.