Go kids go. Many of us are greatly heartened by your interest and push for change to society’s views and laws that can prevent horrific heartbreak from school shootings and gun violence. But I urge you to do more than walk out and Stand for Change.
As The Citizen reported, students walked out of several schools in Platte County on March 14 as part of the National School Walkout. I’d bet some were down at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City on Saturday for the local March For Our Lives rally.
I suggest you should also walk in. Here’s where you can go in weeks, months and years to come to truly make a difference. I emphasize the word years. I have a deep respect for youth activism. But it must translate into lifelong action.
Walk in your local city hall and attend a few board of aldermen or village trustee sessions. One meeting will give you a basic idea of where people, problems, policy and governance meet. But more than one gives you a better idea of how government flows. You’re asking for change at the government level. Look local to get a feel for how government works. Kansas City residents, don’t be intimidated by a city hall downtown. Everyone’s welcome.
Walk in to your local school board meeting. Don’t cause any disruptions, but watch how they conduct business. Note what they say and how they posture themselves. School boards are traditional launch pads for future county, state and sometimes federal officials. Dig into the grassroots.
Contact the Platte County Republican Central Committee or the Platte County Democratic Central Committee, take your pick, and ask to get involved. Google them and study their websites. They can both use some fresh energy and ideas. It is easier to criticize and demand than it is to participate in ongoing discussions, legwork, and back-room haggling about issue stances and candidates. Don’t let them intimidate you due to age. There are limits to wisdom based on age alone.
Walk in to a Northland Progress meeting. This new politics and civics group was pitched to me by someone as bipartisan. Their website tends to lean Democrat. Maybe they need some young, fired-up Republicans to truly be bipartisan. Google them.
Walk in to the Platte County Administration Center in Platte City where elected officials preside. Visit the Platte County Commission offices. Better yet, attend a few commission meetings. This isn’t the place to air gun control grievances. But study how they work, how they got elected (Google old election stories about commissioners), and you will learn about a place to make a difference in a community. Commissioners decide important things like parks, road issues, office management and funding for the sheriff’s department. But they are also often partisan advocates one way or another for issues with ties to those being discussed at the national level.
Walk in to your local state representatives’ and senator’s office. Use the handy old-fashioned internet to dig through the Missouri legislative web site. With persistent searching here, www.sos.mo.gov/bluebook/2017-2018, you can figure out who represents your neighborhood. If you can’t visit the state capital, drop them a letter, hand-written is nice.
Feel free, too, to drop the governor a note about your concerns and positions.
Walk in to the office of Congressman Sam Graves to express your views to his staff. He’s unlikely to be there. But the web says he has an office in a handy location in the KCI corridor at the Platte County Resource Center, 11724 NW Plaza Circle. Someone will take your note and say howdy. Ask them when his next town meeting via teleconference is scheduled. Join in, put your cell phone on speaker.
I’d tell you to walk in on Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, U.S. senators from Missouri. But neither has a handy office. However, I suspect during this year’s election for McCaskill’s seat you’ll have the opportunity to walk in to a campaign rally.
Walk in to your favorite computer game shop and ponder the titles for awhile. Any violence in any of them? I thought so. Ditto movies and TV. Do you support or abhor glorification of violence or the sensational use of violence to captivate the mind? If you’re worried about gun violence, you might want to also turn attention to how society can embrace more kindness and less violence in media.
Walk in to a church, synagogue, mosque or lovely place out in nature. They’re good places to contemplate how positive spiritual energy can make your corner of the world more peaceful.
That’s a long list, but you’re young with a lot of energy. Walking in these places and doing what bits and pieces you can, over years, is what it’s going to take to make a big difference.
Most important, walk in the voting booth. Your voices are being heard, please keep active and interested, but votes are more potent for policy.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.