Are We Ready to Play?

I keep on my desk the all-important reminder from Margaret Mead: €œNever doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. €

Contemplating the sometimes daunting task before the gun violence prevention movement, I recently took a moment to look back over the progress of the past few years. I am struck by the many small, but significant, changes that our movement has brought about in our society. A recent, historic change was the enactment of innovative €œmicrostamping € legislation in California. This opens an exciting new approach to crime-solving (which will bring justice and peace to victims of gun violence) that can be replicated across the country.

My reflection also prompted me to re-read a 2004 article entitled €œThe Optimism of Uncertainty € by historian, playwright, and social activist Howard Zinn. €œRevolutionary change does not come, € wrote Zinn, €œas one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don €™t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. €

Together we have been engaged in a series of such small acts. There is much yet to be done and at times it is tempting to get discouraged. But as we look to the future, it is possible to agree with Howard Zinn: “I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world.”

It may seem trite to say, but the coming election will bring us a different administration and a new Congress with which to work to bring about other possibilities to change our world. Are we ready to play?

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