It had to stop. We all swore we would do something about it, making promises for meetings and radical action. Still no one moved. We promised to scream for our rights. We promised to make them hear us. We promised to bring about change or die trying.
They say, whoever 'they' are, that you should only pick battles that you can win, but the way I see it, what's the point in only fighting for small things you know you can conquer? If we waste our time fighting for things that don't really matter, how will we know how to fight for the things that do? Fighting for untucked shirttails or the color of the next city hall is almost insignificant in the grand scheme of history, but fighting for our right to speak out could quite possibly change the course of the next century.
The day they all called us into the auditorium, they tried to mask their purpose. We could not speak out. They threw around words like "vandalism" and "slander" to describe what we had done. We had simply asked why.
We had asked why we could not dress the way we wanted to. We asked why we had to conform to their kind of literary and music tastes. We asked why we had to accept everything a teacher said as truth. Most importantly, we asked why we couldn't ask why.
As the headmaster spoke, gripping the podium like it was a flotation device in a vast sea of cloned students, his eyes never left him. There, in the front row, under the raven eyes of watchful teachers with their books telling us how to interpret Poe, he sat, face grim, eyes dark. He was unperturbed by staring teachers or white-knuckled principles. He and his friends screamed for change amongst themselves, and only he was reported to the proper authorities. Everyone wanted the injustice to end. Anyone could make up a plan, talk about being a radical, make promises as to what they were going to do the next day, week, month. Many would plot, few would follow through.
The headmaster was mid sentence when he stood. All the air in the room seemed to be absorbed at once. The atmosphere became as thin as the laws we threatened to break. We all watched him as he turned and left, his footsteps reverberating throughout the hall. We all sat, shocked. Then I followed. A few turned after me; some stared, aghast. More and more people got up, turned, and left, until the only a few lingered in the auditorium.
And never have I heard a more eloquent silence.