So here we are again.
The “largest mass shooting in modern American history,” (at least since the last one). And yes, it’s maddening, heartbreaking, tragic, and horrific.
It’s also frustrating to see the nonstop barrage of “thoughts and prayers” for the victims offered by many of the leaders who, ostensibly, have the power to enact some kind of change that would keep this from happening over and over.
Jimmy Kimmel went viral with his emotional response to the shooting, which occurred in his hometown:
“Your thoughts and prayers are insufficient,” Kimmel said, referring to the Senators who voted against closing loopholes that could have helped prevent the Orlando tragedy, mere days after that event.
He was joined by pretty much everyone to the Left of say, Rush Limbaugh, as a cavalcade of memes, tweets and other comments bombarded everyone’s social media feed to say that, essentially, your “thoughts and prayers” are about as useful as throwing paper towels at hurricane victims.
Considering the normal tone of this blog, what I’m about to say might surprise you:
Stop criticizing the people who pray.
Here’s the thing: many of these people are very sincere. They’re not all the two-faced, hypocritical politicians who hide behind their piety while remaining firmly in the pocket of the gun lobby.
I know it’s hard to remember this when the vocally hateful on the right take up so much oxygen, but the vast majority of the people “Praying for Las Vegas” right now aren’t like that. And what they’re doing isn’t just an excuse to not do something more “meaningful.”
To them, this IS the most meaningful thing they can do. Their prayers are a precious gift – an expression of their deepest compassion that they believe DOES change things. Mocking that only serves to push them further into the background, reinforcing the culture war mentality that the Bill O’Reilly’s of the world keep pushing on them.
It keeps those sincere, more moderate voices silent while the obnoxious ones get to shout about how “hostile” the left is to common sense and people of faith.
In other words, it does the exact same thing that harping on “radical Islamic terrorism” does: It proves to the moderates in the group that the minority of extremists at their fringes is right, after all. “They really do hate all of us.”
So let’s just stop that, ok? Let them pray. Respect their prayers as you would have them respect your efforts to help and make changes.
And while they’re praying, lets you and I get together and make sure those NRA-owned hypocrites get a nice surprise at the ballot box in 2018. Deal?
I don’t think anyone’s mocking them. I think they’re saying that prayers aren’t enough. If they were, we wouldn’t be here.
I used to teach at a Methodist school and this was an issue all the time, because we’d go to the weekly chapel service and the chaplain would pray for Darfur or whatever the issue of the day was and that would be it. There was no action to go with it.
And a number of the faculty complained about that–because after all, Paul was pretty big on the whole notion that “faith without works is dead.” Having faith without taking action is meaningless, right there in the Bible.
So… if they want to pray, that’s fine. But it’s also TOTALLY legit for others to say, “How about some action, too? Because otherwise nothing changes.”
Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of memes and comments that are mocking, condescending, downright disrespectful. Which is not at all what Jimmy Kimmel was being – but I’ve seen quite a bit of reaction to his monologue that is very defensive. One of the links in my post goes to an article that says:
So while I completely agree with what you’re saying, my point is that, no matter how it’s put, no matter how legit the point, someone who is SEEN to be outside the faith (in other words, you’re not saying this from their church pulpit this Sunday) is going to be spun as an attack on all Christians who pray. What the author in the quote above says is, to me, a good bit of projection when he says it’s a “display of tribal affinity.” What you’re saying would only be accepted by someone coming from the perspective of, “Hey fellow Evangelical Christians, here’s why we might consider doing more than talking about our thoughts and prayers.”
Anyone outside that group is going to be met with indignation for even the most constructive criticism. Hell, I’ve seen people react that way to constructive criticism from the Pastor himself, who’s SUPPOSED to correct them.
So my vote is just to leave them alone and organize to vote their NRA-funded obstructionist politicians out of office.
Because the most important thing whenever there’s a mass shooting isn’t doing something to stop these increasingly frequent tragedies (you know, like campaigning for gun laws that civilised countries have or at least making it more difficult for mentally unbalanced people to buy semi automatics from Wal-Mart), it’s making sure that people spouting empty platitudes aren’t offended. Thoughts and prayers are ineffective, while they may bring individual comfort to a believer they are no substitute for doing something. I only hope when said politicians and NRA leaders go to the doctors with treatable illnesses they denied medical care and get written out a prescription for thoughts and prayers. It’s the least they deserve.
I totally agree that “thoughts and prayers” are no substitute for action. Also agree that making sure those offering them aren’t offended is NOT the most important thing after a mass shooting. I just think attacking them for something they DO think is helpful is counterproductive.
I’m not even so much talking about NRA leaders (love your prescription idea btw).
My thought is that when we spend time attacking people- even politicians- for something they think is meaningful, it just alienates them more and makes the changes we want less likely.
I live in NC, and because of the crazy gerrymandering here (you may have read something about our attempts to get fair districts) a basically purple state is represented by a red supermajority. I have personally written, called, even marched outside of my Senator’s office only to see him say that all of the above was done by people from outside NC who were brought in and paid. (Still waiting for my check from George Soros for all the protests I’ve attended.)
Anyway, the point of all this rambling – its 6am here and I’m hungover – is that people who need to VOTE to get these idiots out of office don’t need to be insulted for doing something they consider meaningful. All that does is give the politicians ammo to say “our values are under attack” and get reelected.
If surveys are correct most of the public agrees with what we want done. But attacking their faith and sincere gestures drives them into the arms of the politicians the NRA has in its pocket.
That’s all I’m saying.
wooppy fang wang dang a lang….klang?
not quite sure what that means or why i said it 8 times in a row, but i did feel a kind of anointing from your words above and it rushed out of me in response like it was meant to be heard by someone
Amen and God Bless