This kid's one-minute speech puts the cost of gun violence in a gripping new light.

#NationalWalkoutDay was an incredible statement from students across the country. But we shouldn't have needed to have one in the first place.

We've heard horrifying stories of those whose lives were taken away by gun violence. And we need to hear those stories. But one student speaking near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., eloquently reminded us on the day of the walkout that the world would have been far better off if those stories never had to exist at all:

"In an ideal world, the 20 first-graders and kindergartners who died at Sandy Hook would be in middle school today. ... The 32 students who died at Virginia Tech would be employed professionals, and the 17 victims from Stoneman Douglas would probably be eating lunch at school right now, and the only thing they'd be worrying about is a test for next period."

Those remarks given by student Michael Soloman are a heartbreaking reminder that the everyday, often mundane tasks we take for granted would be a blessing for the victims and families of those directly affected by gun violence.


Soloman's remarks are a powerful reminder not only of loss but what will never be.

Seeing the faces and names of those who have lost is an important reminder, but this particular speech is equally important in the sense that it flips the equation to articulate not only what was lost but what could have been.

"Personally, I'm proud to take part in a nationwide movement like the one we're participating in today," he said. "But we can all agree in that in an ideal world, none of us would be here."

We'll never know what these kids and young adults could have been if their lives hadn't been stolen from them. Some might have gone on to do great things. But even for those who simply led "average" lives, the impact is profound when put into a relatable context.

Photo by Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images.

Every student's life has been changed by the reality of gun violence, and millions who may never face a massacre must still grapple with its possibility.

It's becoming an increasingly normal practice for students to take part in school shooting drills. While there's obviously nothing as terrible as being a victim of gun violence, the mere fact that millions of students across the country must now seriously consider the possibility that they too could face a similar fate is an epidemic in its own right.

"Unfortunately, we live in a country where lawmakers are more concerned about their contributions from the NRA than they are about the lives of their own constituents," Soloman said to the crowd.

Generations of students before them have faced other daily threats, like nuclear war. Something like that is a very real, existential threat but one that probably feels more like a far-off idea. Gun violence, on the other hand, is something all too real and present in our lives today.

Pausing to weigh the lost potential of victims is a powerful reminder that everyone deserves the opportunity to live their fullest lives, something the threat of gun violence takes away from anyone it impacts.

We'll be hearing a lot from students, parents, teachers, and politicians about the need to curb violence in the coming days. That's very important. What we saw today is what our lives could be like in a world where we didn't have to spend any time worrying about the issue. The chance to be kids, regular students with regular problems and potential, is a right no one should be denied.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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