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Joan Baez Responds to the Shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

by VVN Music

Joan Baez is about to release her final album and embark on her final tour, but that's not keeping her from continuing to speak out on social issues.

Late Saturday (February 24), she posted a lengthy statement on last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, FL where seventeen students and teachers were killed.

As we try to make sense of the senseless, let me once again speak about nonviolent action in the face of the culture of violence, its worship of the military, and its idea that killing is a solution for everything. While I still stand by the principles on nonviolent resistance after so many years, the change needed may be much simpler than a massive move to a collective conscience by the entire human race. In fact, it may have begun with a group of high school students.

After the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the powers that be have cleverly shifted the discussion to mental illness. Hearing this, for a second, I thought they were talking about themselves. It made sense: The congress people who are ready to sacrifice anyone's life so they can hang on to their jobs - that's mental illness. The hoarding of wealth for the sake of itself at the detriment of the planet - that's mental illness. An organization that defends the availability of assault weapons in the face of grieving school kids - that's mental illness.

The powers that be say they defend liberty. Whose liberty? Not that of the kids who go to school fearing for their lives. Not that of the loved ones who waved goodbye that morning for the last time. Defending the ability for anyone to own machines the only purpose of which is to kill as many people as possible in the least amount of time - that's mental illness. And don’t be mistaken. A gun is designed to kill, not to save lives, not to enhance life, not to bring goodness into the world. Intelligent, impassioned high school students are taking risks in order to save lives, enhance life, and bring goodness into the world.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to join the "March for Our Lives" in person, as I am on tour in England, a country that has banned semi-automatic weapons just like many European countries, sometimes as a response to events similar to Parkland. Such a ban should be the easy first step to saving lives, assuming that saving lives is the goal.

You, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and other high schools, are showing us the way with your clarity and strength in the face of unspeakable grief. You are our conscience and our future. You have stood firm and listened to those who refused to even discuss the accessibility of assault weapons. You've listened to those who responded to you with vague promises of reforms pre-approved by the NRA. You've listened to those who recommended turning teachers into soldiers, and to those who accused you of taking money to help push some anti-freedom agenda.

Do not listen to those who tell you that you are just like them - you are not. If you can stay as open and patient as you are tough and resilient, you will show that you are, as Gandhi said, the change that you want to see in the world. You give all of us hope. We are with you. We will follow you. Do not ever give up.

-Joan Baez

Joan Baez' album, Whistle Down the Wind, is out next Friday (March 2).