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Walk Out V. Walk Up

This whole week of intense politics making its way through South has exhausted and confused me.

Yesterday morning, schools all over the United States, including South, participated in a Walk Out, a protest against the increasing gun violence in America. The Walk Out movement was sparked after the Florida Parkland shooting that took the lives of 17 young students.

In opposition to this movement, the Walk Up campaign circulated, originating from the father of a Parkland victim, the doctrine stating protesters should “walk up” to someone who might be hurting to prevent kids from turning to violence in schools.

His statement read, “Walk up to the kid who sits alone at lunch and invite him to sit with your group; walk up to the kid who sits quietly in the corner of the room and sit next to her…Build on that foundation instead of casting stones.”

While the campaign gained traction, protesters immediately condemned the idea, saying the movement was “victim-blaming,” and putting the weight of creating change on the shoulders of those who are suffering. One compared the thought to asking a rape victim what he/she was wearing.

Again, exhaustion and confusion.

There are two paths here: one that fights and puts the tragedies America has been through on the shoulders of legislators and gun laws, and one that examines the way we treat people who may have mental health issues, and may be just angry enough to cause some real harm.

Everyone has been fighting about whether we have a gun control issue, or a mental health issue.

Am I the only one that thinks it’s both?

The States are exploding with people with mental health problems. Anxiety and depression is on a rampage, creating killers left and right. It is also unbelievably easy to get a gun. There are so many ways to circumnavigate the flimsy laws that are currently in place.

What I don’t see in this country is an actual attempt to change these problems. The conservative pundits who push back against the angry liberal horde with shouts of, “it’s a mental health issue, not a gun issue,” have yet to fix that very real problem.

In equal measure, gun laws run rampant and people spend their time debating what and what does not constitute an automatic rifle. Is that the real question, guys? Is that really what we should be focusing on?

We need to find a middle ground where people do ‘walk up’ to those who are hurting and focus more on others, and where getting instruments of death is not as easy as going to the corner store to get Doritos.
What we need is more funding to mental health institutions, better education on mental health, and better awareness campaigns that try to fix the stigma around mental health. We need background checks when buying guns, more extensive safety training for gun-owners, and longer wait-times for potential buyers.

Above all, we need to be actively trying to fix the problems America faces, instead of pointing fingers and letting party allegiances decide. I think one thing everyone knows about this nation is that the government spends way too much time yapping about parties and profit, then about real issues.

Let’s let that be the American stereotype, not that school shootings are like taxes, annual and suffered.