I was raised in a home where we had family dinners every night. We talked. We fought. We laughed. And, yes, my brothers and I were disciplined. I don’t recall ever having a conversation predicated on fear.

As I sat last week contemplating my column topic, I couldn’t take pen to paper composing anything about the horrific mass shooting in a Florida school that week. It was too raw. It was made all too real by the impassioned stories told by those present. I was amazed by the articulate young people able to communicate so bravely, express so meaningfully what they had been through and how they felt about it. I’m sure, like many of you, I realized that my tears were flowing as I sat watching and listening to them.

We are living in a dangerous world, seemingly getting more dangerous by the minute. Mortal fear has gone from the abstract concept of my youth to a real, disturbing problem for our children.

As parents, we always fear for our children’s wellbeing. Where they were. With whom they associated. Were they eating well? Did they wear their gloves on the first cold day of the winter season? We never gave a thought to whether or not they would be safe in school.

Is it the guns? Is it a faulty system? Is it the violence of movies, television and video games that seduce our children into fantasy worlds where ending human life is but a way to score points? Is it the vitriol being spewed on the streets leading all the way to the hallowed halls of our government?

Yes. Yes. Yes. And, yes.

So, how do we unravel the tightly woven bonds of violence that threatens to choke the life out of our democracy?

I feel the frustration and, yes, the anger right along with the valiant young people demonstrating and speaking out so very eloquently; demanding that something be done. And I admire them so much for maintaining optimism in the face of a system that is not working and shows no signs of improving.

The president of Dick’s Sporting Goods has just announced that Dick’s will not be selling attack weapons, bump stocks and the large round cartridges that they accommodate. Dick’s will not be selling guns to anyone under the age of 21. It’s a start. Perhaps businesses aligning with our youth will make a difference.

At dinner on Wednesday, my 11-year-old grandson announced that they had had a “code red” drill at his school and I became instantly aware that families at dinner tables across this country were now having discussions predicated on fear. While we have all been forced to wrap our heads around the sensibility of these types of precautions; I truly mourn the fact that prevention measures like this are necessary.

Are our children forever doomed to live in a state of fear? Perhaps not. It’s time to look and listen to these young leaders. They are the future.

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Send comments to wendylevenfeld@gmail.com. Visit wendy’s website at www.wendylevenfeld.com.

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