March of our Lives in Atlanta, GA by Jasmeet K. Nagi @Georgia State University
On March 24th2018 the March of our Lives took place in Atlanta, Georgia at the Georgia State Capitol. March of our Lives was launched by the survivors of the Parkland shooting held in Florida hence, starting the #neveragain movement. The March of our lives was my very first political event, and it, in fact, had an impact on me.
I arrived at the march and definitely did not expect to see copious amounts of people fighting for our human rights together. Democracy was in full effect. During our first week of class, we discussed the mere meaning of democracy. When people of the country have a say in the government it is called democracy. According to Robert Dahl’s Polyarchy, democracy requires the citizens to be able to “formulate their preferences, signify their preferences to fellow citizens and government by individual and collective action, and lastly have their preferences weighted equally.” I saw a form of democracy at the March of our Lives. I saw citizens who traveled from different states to speak their mind. I saw signs with everyone’s expressions on them, and everyone was of a different age who had something to say about the most crucial human right issue pressing on our society right now. Everyone at the march had the freedom to join the organization, and form a group in order to send their opinions to the government for a change in the society. According to Dahl, in order for democracy to take place the following is required: the citizens to have the freedom to form and join organizations, freedom of expression, right to vote, find alternative sources of information etc.
I encountered so many different forms of freedom at the march that day, and I have never seen anything like this before. It did not matter how old or young the participants were. There were some individuals who were crying, and some who were smiling because they contributed to change as a whole. I felt as if there were forms of progression within the society. The participants at the march were voicing their rights for gun violence especially Congressman John Lewis’s speech. He spoke out for the little kids and the parents who have experienced loss because of gun violence. He expressed the right to vote throughout his speech. He said, “vote like you have never ever voted before”. Most of the times many individuals do not vote because they are unaware of the government policies, therefore live without change. This march and the words of the Congressman will play an enormous role in the society because young children who will turn eighteen can vote, and they will know what they are voting for because they are aware of their rights as citizens.
I feel very saddened by the way the issue of gun violence was handled by the government. It takes a million people in a country for there to be some sort of change. I myself have experienced gun shooting in an elementary school in Baltimore during the year of 2001. It was a little bit after September 11th. I do not believe anyone was killed, but for that sort of violence to take place after a national tragedy and the government to not do anything about it was my biggest shock. At that time the government did nothing about gun violence as well, and I am slowly starting to think that maybe the government is not run by citizens. I was too young to understand it back then. Now there are different sorts of human rights issues which do not get looked at.
This event provided me with a great amount of insight of how powerful citizens really are. Most of the readings that have been assigned in the class were about democratic erosion, but the first two weeks of our class provided us with the knowledge of democracy, and the requirements of democracy in the world. The event made me feel like I was making some sort of difference in the world and hoping that the voices of people would reach to the government. The government was made by the people for the people, and it is wonderful seeing young children step in to make a difference in the world that I would have never imagined to take when I was their age.
As long as the people of the United States are able to voice their rights to the government, and the government sufficiently protects those rights there will be no sign of democratic erosion in my opinion. Yes, there are other human rights issues that are still crucial in the society but everything takes time. There is a need for numerous voices of the people to be sent to them in order for any change to take place and unfortunately, that is the only way. I very much hope the young generation can make way to the government and do the right thing.