WHEN THE YOUNG LEAD US

You heard it for years, maybe even said it yourself as an aggravated parent or grandparent: “These kids, what do they know? All they care about is themselves.”

That common complaint is suddenly outdated, for we’re amazed and awed by the courage of the thousands of young students who marched against gun violence this week. One by one they took the microphone and spoke -– as The New York Times headline proclaimed – with “Passion and Fury.”

Their tearful but determined faces vividly recall memories of the equally determined faces during the Civil Rights struggle. What was demanded in that earlier time has resonance today. For these students are also demanding basic human rights. The right to go to school without being afraid you’ll never get home again. The right to learn and grow without this being stolen from you in a shattering barrage of bullets. The right to have your childhood.

I’m haunted by so many of these young students, like Martin Luther King’s nine-year-old granddaughter Yolanda echoing his famous speech when she declared, “I have a dream that enough is enough. This should be a gun-free world.Period.” And Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,that triggered the global rally. She recited the names of the 17 people murdered in the school massacre, and then – with incredible stoicism stood absolutely silent until she’d been at the podium for a total of six minutes and twenty seconds – the exact amount of time it took for the gunman to murder her friends .

Typical teenagers? Emma wasn’t there to show off her hairdo or talk about the latest music idol – things we too easily associate with adolescent girls. She was there to memorialize the 17 people killed and to help save the future for others.

Just dreamers? With impressive political savvy student leaders began signing up all those who will be old enough to vote this November. As 18-year-old David Hogg said in his speech, these students will be a major voting bloc. Those legislators, he warned, who aren’t willing to pass gun control laws, should “get their resumes ready!”

I’m ashamed for all of us who have paid lip service to our hatred of gun violence, but done nothing. Maybe sent a check or two, and went about our lives. The silence after Sandy Hook will resound forever in American history.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke’s famous quote. Our children are showing us that the time for “nothing” is over.

WEBSITE: www.annehosansky.com
BOOKS: Widow’s Walk – available through iUniverse.com; Turning Toward Tomorrow –Xlibris.com; Ten Women of Valor and Role Play- both available through CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com; also Amazon Kindle.

PRIORITIES

Irish author Edna O’Brien spoke candidly in an interview about the difficulty of writers having a social life, even – and especially – when the writing is going well. Admitting that this leads to a necessarily “lonely” life she said, “Every writer dreads losing the momentum, and to keep it you can’t be truly sociable.”

It’s a creed I’ve lived by and written about. Friends kindly describe me as “dedicated” and others say “obsessive,” for I try not to let anything or anyone interfere with the hours I need for writing, I am too attuned to time running out to have tolerance for “wasted moments,” meaning non-creative days.

But today I’m writing words I never expected to, for my head is turned in a different direction. It’s because of a shocking phone call from one of my newest friends. Actually it’s a friendship that’s never had a chance to fully blossom. I met Emily in my synagogue, the only woman there I felt kinship with. Apparently Emily felt the same rapport, for in-between our frequent chats she suggested we have lunch together. With my usual reluctance to let anything interfere with my writing schedule, I kept postponing the date. It’s true I had an overly loaded plate, for I was also teaching a memoir writing class and lining up talks about my books. She also has a busy life, with a large family. So for several years it was “one of these days…”

Finally we did get together for what I thought would be an hour or two. Even then I left my desk with a grudging feeling of “should,” promising myself to keep the luncheon short. But I quickly jettisoned that, for being with Emily was a rare experience. She wasn’t interested in idle gossip or chatter, but brought up subjects that opened wider doors – provocative books, the ethics of art and religion, as well as our mutual concern for the downward slope of our country. As we parted – after four hours! – we agreed it had been a wonderful stimulating afternoon and we should do it again soon. But “soon” can be a relative word.

Life, as the saying goes, gets in the way. My partner had a near fatal fall, resulting in permanent disability and a changed life for both of us. Helping him has consumed so much time and energy I’ve become more frantic than ever about salvaging my writing. So I kept assuring Emily we would get together again “when there’s time.” What a futile phrase that is. There’s always “time,” but not always us.

In December I called to say let’s start the New Year with a belated lunch. She said it would have to wait, she’d just been diagnosed with cancer. She would call me when she saw how the chemo treatments were going. The disease was merciless and rapid; she’s now in hospice.

Yes, writing is a number one priority in my life, alongside of my children and grandchildren. But to what extent should it crowd out other things, other people? This is not a mea culpa, for it isn’t guilt I feel about my friend. My “mea” is an abyss of regret, of loss, for what I let slip away.

For years my mantra has been an anonymous quote I once found: Writing is who I am. I have said it repeatedly and proudly. But today I revise it: Writing is my passion, it’s what I must do. But it’s not all of me, nor should it be. The challenge we would each do well to ponder is: How do we best divide ourselves between our work and the rest of living?

WEBSITE: www.annehosansky.com
BOOKS: Widow’s Walk – available through iUniverse.com; Turning Toward Tomorrow –Xlibris.com; Ten Women of Valor and Role Play- both available through Amazon.com; also Amazon Kindle.