Our four kids all were born in what the president would describe as a “shithole country,” Ethiopia, the birthplace of man, an ancient and beautiful culture. One that has survived thousands of years. Some people might believe we have nothing to learn from Africa or our children, who are young and immigrants.
Ethiopia has struggled with climate, famine, and conflict , but there is one thing it and most other countries in the world are getting right: guns.
Ethiopians have seen war at their front doorstep and still do not rely on guns to defend themselves. You see, Ethiopia has common sense civilian gun laws, regulations much more sane than ours. We can learn from Ethiopia, and we can learn from our children.
We get teary-eyed at most things our kids do, knowing the journey they have made, the odds they have beaten and the pain they have been through. We marvel at their absolute resilience, strength, and wisdom on what is right and what is wrong.
Simple things like watching them walk into school with their backpacks, playing with their friends, and attending school conferences move our emotions to the point a lot people might not get.
You can imagine our pride watching our daughters take part in the “March for Our Lives.” Their confidence and voices loud and clear, doing what they do best: defying the odds.
In the past, adults have let these kids down, but they have made the journey halfway around the world for a better life, and it is unconscionable that the country that is supposed to lead the free world is failing so miserably when it comes to gun violence.
We watch as our elected leaders actively work to do nothing and kick the can down the road, but here’s a fact: Our kids are on that road. They are standing right in the middle.
Saturday they walked with thousands of other young people who know this isn’t about a political party, red and blue, or the Constitution.They know it is about our respect for life, our morality, our identity as human beings. They speak in simple truths, telling it like it is in a way adults have forgotten. They will not be silent, they are not afraid, and they will not just go away.
So before you say something stupid like “if it’s so great there, why don’t you go back to Africa,” which is the heart of our greatest debate, or “you’re too young to understand,” remember all of our children are Americans. The government has sworn to protect all of its citizens. They must be held accountable.They must keep them safe, especially kids who look like ours, who have been discounted time and time again. Enough is enough. It is far past time for action — it is time for reform. The kids aren’t asking, they demand it. They will be heard. Our kids, along with millions of other young people, are going to use their voices and their power to vote. It might not be today or in November, but they will replace us, the grownups who have gotten this so wrong.
Lauren Hart is a singer-songwriter who sings the national anthem before every Flyers home game, and has sung it for all pro sports teams in the city as well as for NASCAR, Formula 1, a presidential inauguration, and many other events. @LaurenHartMusic. Todd Carmichael is the cofounder and CEO of La Colombe Coffee Roasters. @toddcarmichael