When Thoughts and Prayers Won't Do

I have accepted that life comes with a good deal of the good and the bad. It’s very healthy to wade through life with that mindset. Yet sometimes the bad is so staggering it can eclipse all the wonderful good. Such was the case on May 24 when NINETEEN children and their teachers died mercilessly one afternoon in Uvalde, Texas. How could? How can? How? Just how. And now, where do we go from here?


Whenever there is a tragedy in the U.S, especially a shooting, the first thing a lot of lawmakers and regular citizens alike say is, “our thoughts and prayers are with [the victims]…” Now, ordinarily this is fine. Prayers are great. Thoughts too are fine. It is also especially great when you feel helpless, because prayers are anything but useless. Prayers are powerful. I know for sure I would not be here without prayers. But when the people literally—LITERALLY—in charge of making the law and changing them where necessary also parrot the line without any bite to it, you begin to wonder. When they are joining us to express moral outrage online even though they have all the power to do something, your blood boils even faster. Forget putting out statements, forget tweeting, get TO WORK. Pick up your pen and fix this and make your coworkers do the dang work too. DO something. We the people can’t really do much. We can grieve, and use our voices and vote, but you are the ones with the actual power to do something. How can you waste such a privilege, such power? 





Isn’t it so maddening?


Even the so-called Christians among them, is it enough to just pray? When non-Christians rightfully call BS to the “thoughts and prayers” line, Christians are angry because they take it to mean that prayers are useless, or prayers are not enough. Meanwhile prayers are more than enough. But here is the thing, as Bishop T.D. Jakes once said, “God already gave us trees, he is not going to come down and make tables for us”. For the love of God, he has empowered us humans with such radical power, strength, and willpower. Why do we waste it? Why do Christians always wrongfully assume that as Christians our default is to be passive? Why do you think the biblical way is to be quiet in the face of injustice, to never critique the government, and to never ever be loud or confrontational? Why do we always choose silence except when it’s time to tell people they are going to hellfire or are going to face judgment? Or when it’s time to control women’s bodies and legislate their uterus. 


I am so tired. I am so angry. I am overwhelmed by grief over what those little babies endured and/or succumbed to. What kind of a people are we? What kind of a society lets little children witness the massacre of their friends and just do…nothing. 


Thoughts and prayers. 


How laughable. 


We know you’re not praying to God. We know, in the words of Ana Navarro, that your god is the NRA. 


People say, “this is such a complex issue. It’s so hard to fix. The 2nd amendment…” bla bla yidi yada BULL. Listen, rocket science seems hard. Brain surgery is hard. Time travel isn’t just hard, it’s impossible. You know what isn’t impossible? This. We have smart people in this country, we can do something so that little girls and boys are not walking over their friends’ unrecognizable bodies. 


I know your hobby is firing off weapons of war for funsies, but listen, I don’t know about you, but I would give up every single hobby I have in this world if it meant just ONE child wasn’t so pummeled by bullets that her family would need to provide DNA for her to be recognized. How sickening is this society? How completely maddening?


We the people are not free. We the people have been held captive by corporate interests, corporate greed, and an unwillingness to relinquish power. We are represented by feckless people who give up all their ideals to cling to power. 


GUNS kill people. Miss we with the BS of “people kill people”.


That said, y’all, we have a responsibility in this world over the people we love. Nobody should exist in isolation; we have to be a community. It means if the only thing you achieve in this world is that you didn’t raise a mass shooter, you have tried. It is the bare minimum. Parenting is one of those incredibly hard things, but if most of the world—if most parents—can raise kids who aren’t mass murderers, you too can. Fix up.


I don’t know how to end this because of how powerless and helpless we all are. But I know we can do something. Anti-abortion nuts and gun freaks always call themselves “one issue” voters, so you and I can use that same strategy. Let our one issue be “children going to school without the fear of being shot to death. People going to their homes of worship safely. People going to the mall safely. People going to the grocery store safely”. Any politician with no plan to stop the nonsense that is mass shooting should not get your vote. Let them show you HOW they plan to do it and HOW they plan to mobilize their colleagues to action. This starts from the top, all the way to the local elections too. And if their answer is to arm teachers, know they are clinically insane and don’t vote for them. 


I will end with this. People say that among “developed” countries, America has the highest mass shootings. That’s not even completely true. Among ALL countries, America has the highest mass shootings. Period. I went to primary/elementary school in 1990s Nigeria, under an authoritarian regime and there was NOT A DAY IN MY LIFE where I was afraid I would go to school and never return. There was not a day we had shooting drills.


It is why we have to do something. It is why something has to give. 


I know the grief is strong and palpable. But I hope we never forget. I hope this spurs people into action. Because I’m sorry if your elected official refuses to act, it may be time for YOU to run for office. 


Argh.


Love, and anger,


I


*I was not polite or kind at all in this post and I’m not sorry about it. I deliberately waited so long to write about this, hoping the anger would have subsided a little. It turns out it hasn’t. I am still furious.


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