The fact that we are even discussing arming teachers shows that we’re too far gone for my boys to be safe in public school. It's time to start preparing to get out.

Students across the country walked out of school on Wednesday to protest gun violence. Adults had lots of opinions.

Some said it was important for schools to levy consequences. Some noted the racialized double-standard.

Some thought this, which struck me as crazy:

Others thought this, which tickled me:


Me? I find I don’t care too much about hashing out these kinds of details anymore. 

I unequivocally support the rights and well-being of all students, and I unequivocally support them taking action to disrupt the system and to voice their disrespect for it. I was quite happy to know my three-year-old son walked out of preschool that morning (with supervision, of course).



The status quo is leading to increasingly disastrous results. Inequity, segregation and gun violence in our schools are only increasing. Things have been really bad since literally the beginning of public schooling, and things are continually getting worse.

Just like every school shooting before this one, if this isn’t the wake-up call that permanently changes our perspective and our behavior, then we ourselves have made sure that it’s nothing more than a pointless, senseless, meaningless tragedy.

Put another way, if you don’t do things differently now, then you’re choosing — knowingly — to continue to be complicit. If I don’t do things differently now, I am, too.

I know what you’re thinking. Me? What can I do? I’m not involved. I’m not in a position of power. I'm not in Parkland. I’m not this or that.

Admittedly, taking personal responsibility does make things more difficult. Unfortunately, it’s not up to the kids or the legislators or anybody else. It’s up to me and you and everyone we know, and that gets uncomfortable. It means you need to figure out what needs to be done, and what we’re going to do. And then we need to do it.

So… what do we do?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, I think it’s time to start admitting that things are worse than we want them to be, and to make preparations based on an assumption that things are not going to get any better. This system, despite all our efforts, is not reforming. We need to start getting ready to get out — to live differently with or without permission.

Let’s pause here to understand my fundamental position on issues of educational inequity: Our system of compulsory public schooling was designed to be a tool for assimilation, cultural genocide, indoctrination, division and control. Everything stems from those roots.

On top of that, our schools are increasingly subject to terrible violence that our society is unwilling to truly address. The most recent response from legislators and lobbyists for the devil has been to arm teachers — to put more guns in our schools.

The fact that this has even come up as a serious topic of discussion shows that we’re too far gone for my boys to be safe in public school. It’s time to start the process of preparing to pull them out of school indefinitely and finding a new way to educate and live.

If this sounds like too much, I hear that. It’s a lot, certainly. Not my first choice. But I believe it’s the only way.

I mean, come on. This is insanity. It’s time to stop participating. It’s time to stop relying on people to change or waiting for systems to change.

A trusted friend and colleague told me not long ago that he didn’t think most people, himself included, are “up for” completely tearing down and rebuilding our system of education in America.

yoda fail.jpg

It’s up to you. It’s up to me. And most of us just aren’t up for it.

That, as Yoda says, is why we fail. That is why things don’t change.

It means most of us are not in deep enough to truly make a difference because we're not willing to be a part of solving the problem if it turns out to be of a certain magnitude. We're not willing to be part of solving the problem if it turns out to take an amount of effort or change that we're not comfortable with.

We need to build the demand for a new way. That means we must advocate for the future by putting what we believe into practice right now. Even if it seems a little crazy. Even if others aren’t up for it. Even if we never pictured this for ourselves either.

We need to let go of our attachment to any systems we’ve taken for granted as needing to exist. Decide right now if you’re all in or not. Are you more wedded to the system and your continued comfort, or to truth and liberation? If you’re not all in, stop pretending. Own your role. Know your complicity.

It all starts within. It starts at home. It starts by relentlessly tending our own gardens with vulnerability and bravery. It means we take care of our kids, and not in competition with other kids or at their expense, but by saying enough is enough to a system that has not earned this kind of access to our children.

Are you going to wait for a teacher in your kid’s school to bring a gun into the building before you start the process of finding an alternative? Are you going to look back when your children have grown and realize you didn’t live bravely for them in the light of uncomfortable truth?

No, I’m not.


I had finished writing this post when my partner walked in the door with a copy of the Spring 2018 issue of Yes! Magazine ( I leafed through it and stumbled onto this short, moving and extremely relevant piece that I'd like to share with you.

“Decolonization starts inside of you.”
By Josué Rivas, visual storyteller
Colonization, at its core, is about creating separation among people and separation from spirit and our connection to the Earth. Humans have been taking more than we need, and we haven’t been giving enough back.
Decolonization starts inside of you. It is a lot about finding compassion and kindness, and less about anger and fear. We should remember that it begins with an internal process of healing and reconciliation. Once we find that peace, then we will be able to move forward and unify as peoples. We must remember that we are all related.
At Standing Rock, we saw a new vision of what it means to be human. The fire and the water were our tools for healing. It was not just a protest; it was an awakening for all of us to return home, back to where our spirit lives in harmony with our past and present. In that way, we can have a healthy future.
The real front lines are within.
Josué Rivas is a Mexica/Otomi photographer and visual storyteller who spent months living at and documenting Standing Rock. He is a 2017 Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellow and founder of the Standing Strong Project.