This Saturday, March 24th, 2018, the iGeneration will make itself heard on Capitol Hill with their national March for Our Lives. As Sr Joan Chittister points out in the March 19th, issue of NCR “Between 1900 and 2018, there have been at least 146 protest marches and rallies, gatherings of people to express their social and political views, in Washington, D.C. It is a time-honoured American way of making sure that the government ‘hears’ the people, their passion and their political aspirations.”
Interestingly, for Rotary “i” generations have existed since 1962, when the Rotary Club of Melbourne, Florida formed the first “Interact” club. In light of Saturday’s action, it is entirely appropriate that the name “Interact” was created by combining the words “international” and “action.” Forty-six years later, RI’s website page on Interact still begins with those words, “Take Action…”.
No doubt more than a few Interactors will be taking action, on a subject that their Rotarian parents or grandparents, like the majority of American adults, simply refuse to do anything.
I hope Rotarians and the clubs who sponsor Interact clubs can maintain solidarity with this iGeneration. The March for Our Lives is the first national First Amendment protest to be led by America’s children. Given, that America’s so-called adults have seen 129 mostly children killed while in school often by other children under 17, using assault-style military weapons without insisting on a legislative change to national gun laws is a national tragedy. Putting a passion for guns ahead of children’s safety cries out for moral clarity, demands quiet courage in the face of tyrannical rage and a peaceful determination to ensure that do-nothing legislators are not acceptable.
I even hope some Rotarians will try to explain to your family iGener or a member of your school’s Interact Club about Rotary’s no politics rule. Be forewarned; it isn’t going to wash! By your silence, you support the very tools that are killing them. By your silence, you keep in power the legislators who refuse to pass sensible gun laws. By your silence, you too are part of the problem.
The iGeneration has three demands: age restrictions on gun purchase, a ban on assault-style weapons, and the demilitarisation of police forces.
Every-once-in-a-while rules need breaking. A wise person knows when they face that difficult choice. This weekend and on the issue of guns, American Rotarians come face to face with such a choice. The future of Rotary in America may depend on the choice you make.