The weapon of unity

Oftentimes amidst school shootings and violence against children, the power of a united youth is forgotten.

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The weapon of unity

Ayesha Vishnani, Writer

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Crouched under wooden desks, they battled for another second, another chance to revive the innocence they possessed mere hours ago. Although some were awarded another chance at life, their innocence had been stripped away from them forever.

On Dec. 16, Taliban terrorists shot and killed over 140 people at Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan according to CNN. 132 of these fallen victims included students between the ages of five and 18.

After 21 days, the school reopened last Monday morning. The children who did not have “Killed” written next to their names on lists posted outside hospital walls returned to the hallways that would never let them forget that fateful day.

But why? The question remains. Why the children?

From Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was shot by the Taliban, to the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, the bitter truth about our society today is that the most vulnerable have become the most targeted. It is disheartening to say that we are now living in a society where school shootings are a norm and violence against children is a common ordeal. Perhaps this occurs because it is easy to target children, or perhaps it occurs because killing a 30-year-old man just isn’t as effective as killing a 5-year-old, who probably doesn’t even know how to pronounce the word “terrorism.”

However, what often becomes overlooked in the midst of the havoc is the power of younger members of society. Their innocence is often mistaken as a weakness, but that innocence often reveals to people the simple beauty of their thoughts.

This power also stretches to their ability to unite for a cause and unanimously call for change. And of course, history has been the witness of their courage and strength–exemplified especially by the Children’s Crusade of 1963.

This so-called “crusade” was characterized by hundreds of school students marching the streets of Birmingham in protest of the brutal segregation prominent there. They were arrested, watered down with fire hoses and chased after by police dogs. Yet, they were the unwavering force that Martin Luther King, Jr. needed to turn the tide in favor of the civil rights movement.

It is this unwavering force that we, the youngest members of society, need to become aware we possess. Because contrary to what people may think, we have the greatest weapon available: unity.

It is this unity that allows us to set aside the color of our skin and the name of our place of worship to see beyond what meets the eye. It teaches us to look at more than what my “party” is doing and more so at what we believe as individuals.

We need to use this unity to overcome the ignorance and the violence that has unfortunately become a predominant part of our society. Rather than simply being seen as the target, we need to be viewed as the foundation for change, the same foundation that Martin Luther King Jr. sought and found in the children of Birmingham.

As you reflect on your extra day off in honor of Dr. King, realize that it might not have existed without the courage and unity of the young marchers—whose role we must fulfill today.

And remember the children who lost their lives in the shooting in Pakistan, becoming mere names on a list for their friends and family to grieve over.

But also remember the survivors, who have the most valuable lessons to teach–

“They came. They fired. And they killed. That’s the sin they did,” a student victim of the shooting said according to an interview by NBC. “What we will do? It’s not the same. We will again hold the pen, we will again write, we will again read, we will again rise up.”