I really enjoy putting this blog together. It’s in my thoughts for the bulk of the preceding week, and something usually happens during that week to get the creative juices going. That then leads me to write about whatever that topic might be, usually for anywhere between 1,800 to 2,500 words, using them to try and make whatever point it is that I’m trying to make, hopefully with humour and some relevant pictures to catch your eye. Not this week. This week is just half a dozen paragraphs then straight to a link to YouTube, no humour, no pictures.
Nearly 23 years ago, I became a dad to my wonderful daughter, Georgia. Three and a bit years later, along came bundle of joy number two, my other wonderful daughter, Olivia. I don’t need to explain to any parent the love I have for them. And always will.
This week, a week after America woke up to another school massacre, I saw a video on social media that had gone viral. It stopped me in my tracks. It reflected the events at the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 young people were shot dead by a 19 year old with a semi-automatic assault rifle. Sons and daughters. Daughters. A chill goes through me even now just writing that.
The discussions that have followed have threatened to, literally, split a nation. It may well still end up doing so. I have my opinions, but frankly, there’s no point me sharing them here because children have died. It’s not time for discussions, it’s time for action. For too long, America has procrastinated over the hardest problem a nation can ever face – the safety of their children in their schools. Nothing should have priority over that.
All too quickly, President Trump got very Presidential with his visit to Florida, lots of pictures with him smiling and giving the thumbs up, accompanied by his usual “thoughts and prayers” response. I started to despair. It was happening again, lots of grief, lots of sympathy, lots of regret, lots of empty promises….and then surely to be followed by another school massacre in another couple of weeks.
It needed something different. It needed someone with something different to say, and way to say it. It needed someone whose voice could not be ignored. It needed a parent. And this week it came. And not before time. It was the video of this parent, Andrew Pollack, angrily outlining directly to both his President and Vice President, the outrage he felt over the preventable loss of his beautiful 17 year old daughter, Meadow, that so stopped me in my tracks. When I witnessed his passion, his sorrow, his eloquence, his despair, but mainly his anger, I wept. How would I deal with his situation, if one of my girls had been in that tragic High School last week and not come home? Not as well or as powerfully as he did, I’m certain of that.
Politics must stop, excuses must be parked, the hunt for convenient scapegoats should be halted. Instead, America should listen to the grief of a simple dad, a loving father, and ensure he is the last dad to have to contemplate dealing with the unimaginable despair of phoning his daughter when he heard of the shooting, and repeatedly hearing the phone click over to answerphone. People in power need to watch this video, listen to this man, and America needs to change its view and change it fast. Forget politics, forget money, forget the protection of the 2nd amendment. Protect children. In the past, parents who have lost children at Columbine and Sandy Hook have lamented that nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all. Something must happen now, Andrew Pollack has surely made sure of that.
I’m ending my shortened blog here this week with a link. A link to the most powerful speech I think I have ever seen. Please watch the video. Mr Pollack, your daughter would have been so incredibly proud, well done, sir. I just hope your country sits up and takes notice of you, your anger and your pain.