A View From Here: After Uvalde: The PRO-LIFE Ask Today


What does it mean to claim to be pro-life right now?

Not as of the morning of May 24th when we woke up, not within the frame of the pro-life movement as it has created itself, not in a reflexive position that involves polarity, division, contempt and hostility, but as a people who must evaluate, each in our own heart, right now, whether we stand with and for our children, NO MATTER WHAT.

No one among us can claim to be pro-life if we aren’t committed to protecting our children.  Today.  Read on for the specific ask at the bottom.

This is not an academic conversation or theoretical ask for reasons that are too heartbreakingly obvious and fresh, and wearyingly constant.  I am not asking in irony, sneering as I write this, or playing, “Gotcha!”  This is a new moment, with a fresh opportunity to see who among us is ready to stand together, as parent, teacher, employer, employee, family and community member, to protect our children from being murdered while radiating their innocence and light on any given day.

Are we okay with allowing them to be gunned down at school as a symptom of our societal moral decay?

Answer quickly without calling in a rehearsed position.  No time for hiding behind “politispeak.”  No vitriol, or cowardly party decampment.  No wordy excuses and paragraph-long justifications for “what-the-h-ever.”  Just each of us, owning where we stand, and making a choice.  Right now.  Today.

Simply as a member and child of humanity, we know in our heart-gut the horror of parents receiving news that their beloved child, bearer of innocence, fun, hope and joy for them and all of us, has been torn to bloody pieces as a symbol of someone else’s pain.  This is itself a mirror of our collective despair, fear, and rage.  The shootings are a violent scream into the seeming void.  Something to pierce the business-as-usual blinders that allow us to pretend our collective house isn’t on fire.  Mass shooters are often barely adults themselves and express with shocking simplicity and drama the rot that rules our public choices as an unchecked contagion.   The pain violently pours out of damaged psyches to show us how we’re ruining our nation and each other from the inside.  

We each need to choose for ourselves whether we’re ready to draw the line today as a person capable of love, decency and moral conscience regardless of job, social status, or political affiliation.

I am seriously asking:

Can we please prove to ourselves, each other, and every single child in our beautiful, damaged country that it’s not too late for us to stand together to protect them?  

What else do we have to protect that is more important?

What else even matters if we can’t do this?

Here’s a specific idea, such as it occurs to me right now:

Parents, stay home, starting as soon as you can to have the most immediate impact.  Refuse to go to work, or send your kids to school (though we’re already at seasonal end for many kids) until we’ve made meaningful change to our collective stance, through urgently passed, high-quality legislation and actual demonstrations of political commitment to the public interest.  Naturally, Congress has given themselves an extended vacation for Memorial Day.  Interesting choice: Memorial Day.  While they’re barbecuing with their intact families, or maybe their donors, the rest of the country can choose to honor the memory of all the beloveds we’ve lost in Buffalo and Uvalde and beyond, May 14 and May 24 burning fresh in our collective heart.  

A 14-24 tribute can be a day or string of days when we bring our hearts together to put our foot down.  Many kids, especially younger ones, still have another month or so of school.  Parents, teachers and kids, stay home till the end of the school year if that’s what it takes—there’s no more important lesson any of us will ever learn than how to save ourselves and each other from this wrenching violence today, right now.  We can crowd fund in our communities and beyond to take care of each other’s needs while this gets done.  Companies, step up to sponsor this emergency of collective action.  

Let’s do whatever it takes.

In solidarity with children, parents, teachers and every other person whose life has been darkened by these senseless, manufactured gun tragedies, we who feel collectively called can gather at local parks and playgrounds, wearing black if we choose, or beautiful colors if that feels right, and bring a piece of heartfelt tribute, symbol to each and every child we’ve failed.

We will mourn, together, all over our land and communities.  Crying the tears we must cry, honoring the lives that can only be honored when we say NO MORE.  

This is what it means to be pro-LIFE.

We will not allow any elected official off the hook.  All members of Congress must take a transparent vote on a collection of meaningful gun regulations, passed as the national emergency they are, that offer all of us some reasonable protection from being mowed down.  This country does not belong to the gun manufacturers, nor their paid lobby.  It is shameful to allow merchants of death to overtake our civil society as they have.  So far.  

Politicians, no one cares what party you’re in or who you’ve taken money from.  Fix it.  We owe this to Uvalde, Buffalo, Sandy Hook, Columbine, and every other community on the unacceptably long list of places where we’ve failed to protect LIFE.  

We owe it to the places we’ll add to the list if we don’t put our collective foot down today.  We owe it to every child who’s had to go through active shooter drills at their school.

We’re well past time for “debate.”  It’s time to protect life in a truly pro-life stance.  Otherwise, what does LIFE mean?  Anything less should mean we can never look our children in their sweetly loving eyes again.  We used to be these sweet, loving children.  How can we look ourselves in the eye?  

Let’s pour all the love and pain in our hearts into each child and each other by saying YES to their lives.

We must memorialize, protest, and contribute, each as we can and all over our country, to reclaim the innocence of children going to school and loved ones buying groceries.  

There are marches occurring all over the country now and going forward.  There is the quickly growing national March for Our Lives protest in DC on June 11, with local options springing up all over the country. Join or start one today. Pay tribute with loving donations to Buffalo and Uvalde families, still knowing it can’t fill the hole left in the hearts of family and community.

These are the vital first steps to actually being pro-life and choosing LIFE over death.  It’s time for a new Pro-Life Movement to earn its name.

March for Our Lives was founded by David Hogg, himself a student mass shooting survivor.  The organization is particularly interested in hearing from gun owners, Republicans, law enforcement and healthcare workers who support gun safety.  You can tweet @davidhogg111 or email marchforourlives.com.

Janique O’Shea is a resident of Manchester and the Co-Lead of the Massachusetts Forward Party.

uvalde, texas, sandy hook, civil society