Much like everyone else on the planet, I was glued to my TV and social media upon hearing that 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12,2016.
As we all watched the horror, the outpouring of grief, social media was flooded with the all too familiar "My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the dead at this time."
Such a lovely sentiment, but so completely hollow.
I am an agnostic Christian. I believe in God. I also believe that I am unqualified to tell others that their religion is wrong, so I just assume that everyone is right until the rapture comes and we are proven otherwise. Thoughts and prayers are lovely, but thoughts and prayers alone won't create change. Ironically enough, the ones who generally preach thoughts and prayers are the ones who contribute the least.
When Senator Chris Murphy started his 14 hour filibuster to prompt a gun control vote, it was Republican senators were the ones who voted against the bill, the "Thoughts and Prayers" crew (if you'd like to know how your senators voted, check Here).The same "Thoughts and Prayers" senators also tried to stop a Democratic sit in to prompt a gun control vote. Oddly enough, 48 people were shot during the Filibuster. Welcome to the new normal.
Whether it's a shooting, a natural disaster, etc. "Thoughts & Prayers" is the new "It's sad, but it's none of my business." The people who oppose refugees, saying we need to help at home complain about GoFundMe accounts set up to help victims of these tragedies. The family of Christina Grimmie, the Voice finalist who was gunned down while her brother Marcus fought to save her, was met with hateful spew about why it was unfair for her manager to ask for donations, as he is Selena Gomez's stepfather and why didn't her mentor Adam Levine & Gomez step up (it was later revealed that Levine did pay for the funeral)? But when rich people donate, it's always criticized. Christina Aguilera's donation of the proceeds of her new single Change was panned, as she shouldn't use her single, she should use her existing money. Yes, it makes a difference. But the same people vilifying Aguilera, or the clothing company Glamour Kills (who collected donations with the sale of a T-shirt) for "capitalizing on a tragedy" are the same people doing nothing but hiding behind a keyboard & screaming Second Amendment. Oh, and thoughts and prayers.
Believing in God is wonderful, but God helps those who help themselves. God expects us to help each other. I have always refrained from discussing my charitable donations, as I feel it's narcissistic to brag about your good work, but that's another story. But God wants us to help each other. Whether it's voting out a corrupt senator, or donating directly (or via a song or a shirt purchase), or even signing a petition. Maybe it's as small as standing in front of a funeral to prevent the WBC from spreading hate.
Kindness doesn't have to be big. When the city of Fort McMurray was evacuated, a Walmart Wireless employee in Edmonton gave gift cards for a free coffee to any evacuee who came in, purchased out of the goodness of her heart. WWE superstars Kevin Owens & Tyler Breeze started a GoFundMe (which raised over $60 thousand). The cities of Edmonton & Calgary opened their hearts & wallets & stepped up, as did the rest of Canada. Volunteers offered to go to the city & help clean up. Humane Society workers clocked in hours reuniting people with lost pets. Stores offered discounts. That's how it should be. I'm sure God would rather you refrain from your collection plate donation for a few weeks to help someone in need. Unless Thoughts & Prayers are now currency.
Changing your FB picture to a flag is great, but recovery costs money. Change requires a voice. That voice requires bravery & determination. No change, from self improvement to amending the constitution ever came by twiddling one's thumbs & changing a Facebook profile picture. Jesus died on the Cross. David slew Goliath. Apostle Paul spent years in jail to spread the word of God. God blessed men of action, not men with passive voices who sat and watched while another family buried their loved ones because someone who shouldn't have access to a weapon had an assault rifle & took it to a nightclub or a movie theatre...
...thinking their thoughts & saying their prayers.