Curtain Raiser

Trouble Forges Better Leaders, Colltalers

A society led by children is not attainable. But kids won’t wait for permission to lead: no action on climate, no life on the planet, they say. Seemingly, we don’t vote on gender or race. Yet, it’s women, people of color, and the young, who’re speaking the truth.
‘Our gun laws will change.’ New Zealand P.M. Jacinda Ardern’s response to the massacre of 50 Muslims by a white supremacist, was most appropriate; Parliament’s should quickly approve her plan. When will Americans see such resolve from their leaders?
It was supposed to be a beautiful Friday, with kids all over the world striking against climate change. They’re showing the kind of determination, which is what this juncture requires, that most adults in positions of power haven’t. Which makes one wonder, that they are either missing crucial brain cells, or have a financial stake invested by ignoring the public clamor. And also lack neurons.
But what makes the biggest difference, both from the part of the kids, and adults with a still functioning brain, is accountability.
Whereas the young is taking upon themselves to act as grownups, and defend a dwindling future they, more than anyone else, are likely to be around to live through, those in charge must be held accountable for sticking their heads in the sand rather than lead.
This is the second major issue, related to survival and assuring a future to everyone, that American kids are taking the initiative. The other is gun control. But despite spending 2018 rallying for change, officials and politicians remain oblivious to the public clamor.
The massacre at the Christchurch town mosque somehow merged the two issues and made it painfully clear who’s on the wrong side of history. Surprise, they’re the same. Those not ashamed of expressing racist views, and resorting to violence to back it up, are also defenders of the status quo, unwittingly supporting a privileged, and unrealistic, order of which they’re actually outcasts.
Neighbor Australia had proved that legislation does indeed stop mass killings, and it’d at least, cut drastically the inconceivable daily reality of gun shootings in the U.S., for instance. Since

Aussies banned semi-automatic rifles and handguns, in 1996, there hasn’t been any shootings there. They may tweak the law, now, to include new gadgets that assassins use to increase lethal power.
Minister Ardern is showing the kind of mature leadership that we have absolutely lost in many parts of the world. And it’s not that Kiwi current laws are weak, either: there hasn’t been a gun massacre in that country in the past 22 years. We should be so lucky.
People, however, have always ways to show that deep down, we care about the innocent and the vulnerable, being singled out and murdered, either for their ideas or for simply being themselves. It was moving how, despite all the haters, an overwhelming chain of support came from all over the world, for the grieving Muslim families. In the end, it’s love that unites and makes us all better.
Reality is, unfortunately, grimmer. Even when mentioned by name in the online manifest the depraved shooter published while squeezing triggers, Trump refused once again to link the carnage with the wave of hatred and white supremacy inspired by him.
It’s a dark wave wrecking havoc all over the world, an infernal diversion promoting violence against women, colored people, immigrants, sex minorities, and, of course, Islam. Granted, it was always there before, but it’s undeniable that’s getting bigger and worsen faster. Even in places where extreme urban violence is a daily reality, the combo hate speech-guns is fully festering.
Take Brazil, for instance. Last week, two young men entered their former school, shot dead 10 students and staff, and injured others, before killing themselves. It was a rare incident of its kind, but leave it to the right wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, to make things a bit worst. Rather than express remorse for the tragedy, he doubled down on his pro-gun agenda. Doesn’t it sound familiar?
A couple of days later, after a full year of phony investigations, Brazil arrested two ex-cops, and charged them in the murder of councilwoman and LGBT activist Marielle Franco. No one believes they’ve acted on their own, and over the weekend, the press revealed an inconvenient fact: both killers were close to the president and his family, and live within walking distance from them.
The Brazilian media, actively involved in the questionable oust of President Dilma Rousseff, halfway through her second term in 2016, which opened the way for Bolsonaro to get elected two years later, seem to be playing a different angle this time. It’s likely that not even his inner circle realized how fast their claim that they didn’t know who was behind the crime would be debunked.
The silver lining to it all is that, following Mariella’s assassination, four women of color got elected to local office in her native Rio. Like her, they come from shantytowns with a diverse and pluralistic platform, whose top priority is to defeat Bolsonaro in 2022. Or whoever likely backstabbing ex-ally of his will take over, once and if he gets deposed himself. Brazilian can’t wait.
Fatality may have brought together two distinct issues, but necessity may consolidate an alliance of women and kids to change the world. Or, as a pioneer and leader of the kids movement, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, put it, ‘system,’ not just climate, change.
Not coincidentally, the New Green Deal, a far reaching set of proposals to address climate change right away, aiming at protecting the segments of society bound to suffer the most, was introduced in congress by a fresh crop of just elected women.
That the kids are trying to confront naysayers, using that same proposal advocated by the new brand of leadership forged during the Nov. U.S. midterm elections, is just the confirmation that bright, and courageous, minds think, and full-heartedly act, alike.
March sails on, and so do we. Here comes the Spring Equinox (or winter for those below the Equator) which arrives Wednesday, along the year’s first Supermoon. Paraphrasing the old Broadway ditty, Spring will be a little sooner this year. If you don’t know why, have a kid or a progressive woman explain it to you. In either case, you’ll be in the best possible hands of the age. Cheers. WC


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