Today’s marches

The question “will this finally change things?” is the wrong question. The march today will not change centuries of weird and conflicted American thinking about weaponry and freedom. It is highly unlikely that it will be a tipping point. With apologies to my hero Malcolm Gladwell, there are rarely tipping points, though we have to keep believing in them. If we didn’t, we’d never try anything. I think of it the way I think of physical fitness: if you’re out of shape, a workout is necessary. But many more than just one. Stay at it, and one day you’ll be able to look in the mirror and notice some muscle definition. Lord knows the American psyche about guns needs some exercise and fresh air.

So march on.  Every step is necessary. No individual step will traverse the gulf, and all of them will, eventually. Don’t give up after today. Old white men, particularly the crusty types afraid of difference and death, are notoriously difficult to change. They have all manner of power. The good news is you have a longer future than they. Take care of it, and yourselves. They want you become like them, which is the last way they can imagine going on living. Many of you will. Please resist this. Already they are tempting you with self-driving Range Rovers and Louis Vuitton handbags. They are old, but they are wiley.

Also: don’t become fanatics. Often, people think of fanatics as persons who shake up the world. That is horse poo. Fanaticism leads to all manner of emotional reactions that backfire. The difference between you, today, if you yell angrily for radical change and drop F bombs like I do in traffic, is not much different from the way NRA kooks at a convention do, waving banners that say “If they can take one, they can take them all.” Note how weird and, well, fanatical they look. Be better. This may be the one thing we grownups can say that you can take us at our word for: if you stomp and scream and say emotional things, the people you stomp and and scream at will dig in and take much longer to listen, if ever. It will be almost impossible to get what you want. I say this because I have tried it, and continue to try it, sometimes.

Better to take cues from MLK and other great non-violent protestors that came before you. Strength, kindness, persistence, and steadfast calm. Sing songs; do not shout. Music opens the soul; anger slams it shut.

Please be careful out there. Listen: your parents love the hell out of you.

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