Commentary: Leading by example deserves some praise

Commentary: Leading by example deserves some praise
April 05
00:00 2018

By Fredrick Adams

“I believe the children are our future.  Teach them well and let them lead the way.” 

As much as I believe in those words, I must confess.  Sometimes, I’m quite critical of young people.

“Their jeans are too skinny.”

“Their music is bad.”

“They’re too spoiled.”

So along with that criticism, I must also praise them when they do something right, like lead by example.

This weekend of March 24 epitomized what truly makes America great, and it’s not Donald Trump’s fragile ego, his Twitter account, mean-spirited governmental policies, or building a wall.

This weekend, our young people marched and spoke about responsible gun control legislation, and we were reminded of how desperately we needed it after Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary, Orlando and Las Vegas, just to scratch the surface. 

Except nothing happened.

Because despite these tragedies, the National Rifle Association and their band of staunch supporters continue clinging steadfastly to their guns, the Second Amendment, tradition, and history.  While the Constitution may have been ground-breaking and profound, it remains a flawed document enacted by flawed individuals during a historically-flawed period of time.  Drafted by men who owned slaves and who considered no one other than white men, the Constitution is the quintessential document of white male privilege.  Additionally, it was impractical for them to consider the types of guns and the accessibility to guns that we currently have. 

Therefore, whenever we talk about guns and the Constitution, any discussion must be analyzed through the appropriate lens. 

The same goes for tradition and history.  Tradition and history have their place, but standing alone, they are rigid concepts that ignore evolution, progress, and context.  If tradition and history always prevailed, “separate but equal facilities” would still be constitutional, and the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education would have never overruled the prior precedent in Plessy v. Ferguson. 

Nevertheless, gun advocates who cannot win those arguments will focus on the timing of those who are demanding change.

“Politicizing this tragedy is disrespectful to the victims.  Now is not the right time.”

But isn’t a blatant unwillingness to address an obvious problem even more disrespectful?   If now is not the proper time, when is?  These tragedies teach us that for many gun advocates, the answer is never. 

So, in the aftermath of these tragedies, the adults do what the adults have always done.  Talk, pray, mourn, and ultimately do nothing but revert back to our normal lives and wait until the next tragedy. 

The difference this time, however, is that young people are demanding more, urging us to do something better and something different, and they are justified because the adults have had ample opportunity and have failed repeatedly.  They want meaningful dialogue followed by authentic action – not more talking points for re-election campaigns or salary justification speeches to pacify the lobbyists.      

We claim to be an innovative and thoughtful nation with endless resources and capabilities.  However, those resources and capabilities seem helplessly overmatched by a refusal to confront an issue that demands our attention. 

None of us, especially our children, should be forced to live based solely upon the hope that another mass shooting will not happen, and this weekend, young people across America were raising their voices and forcing us to listen.

Hopefully, we heard them because “enough is enough.”

Frederick Adams II is an attorney in Winston-Salem

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