thoughts and prayers

Seen on Twitter:

Your “thoughts” should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your “prayers” should be for forgiveness if you do nothing – again.

When I first saw the news on my Twitter feed yesterday about yet another mass shooting, my reaction was probably much like yours. Disbelief that could keep happening over and over. Deep sadness, for the victims, but also for this country and really, this world, which just seems to be drowning in tragedy these days. And of course anger, because it’s senseless.

And then I saw the above tweet. I actually first saw it referenced on Facebook, though that’s irrelevant. But it hit the core of what I feel. I pray; I do. But I’m not under the impression that by merely thinking or praying for change, change will actually occur.

So I went on with my day, this hopelessness seeping in. Because what could I do? I can’t single-handedly re-elect all of congress and install new congresspeople who enact gun control laws. I’m not in California, or Colorado, or Paris so I can’t personally comfort those who are grieving. I not SuperGirl, so I can’t take on every single person who has an agenda of hate.

I went to meet with a group of women, as planned last night; all women who share my faith. At one point in the evening we talked about how the evil in the world might be louder, but that does not make it larger. It’s amplified, sure. But the good is still greater. Think of the quote by Mr. Rogers and look to the helpers. That feels better.

But I needed more. This morning, while driving, I was thinking about the tweet up above and I realized something that brought a genuine smile to my face: all these bad things don’t have to be pointless. Because every time someone in our world shows apathy, or acts in violence, or exhibits a fear-based reaction of self-preservation, someone ELSE is spurred into action. Someone with peace in their heart acts out of love.

I was struck with these specific examples in my own recent experience: Universal healthcare and other aide is threatened :: people donate even more time and money to help the poor. Fearful people shun our world’s refugees :: my friends and I immediately start researching local ways we can assist agencies helping refugees. Another mass shooting is reported :: on Facebook I see multiple people joining groups that advocate for stricter gun laws.

So no: I won’t sit here and pretend that I can think or pray away all the bad things happening in the world. And I won’t lock up my house and hide my kids (hide yo kids, hide yo wife!–sorry, that was begging to come out; just ignore that outburst) out of fear and self-preservation. I don’t turn off the tv in order to protect my kids from what’s happening in our world, either. They are old enough (mine are, yours may not be) to know that not getting the new backpack they wanted is of little concern in the face of our world’s realities. And that they are needed, and will be needed, to carry on the work of changing our world for the better.

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I say all this, full well knowing that you may be thinking: oh really? what are you actually doing, other than writing this blog post?

It’s true that I could do more. I have friends who have traveled to India and Africa to help build homes for others. Others regularly prepare meals for the local homeless. I freely admit that I am not doing even a fraction of what I would like to be doing to help others. Making donations, volunteering here and there, and writing pro-bono is not exactly front line stuff.

We actually talked about this last night; about how the full schedules and to-do lists in our own lives can sometimes overwhelm any other good intentions. But: it starts with intention. Baby steps. Clear out your house of everything you don’t absolutely need and give it to those who are in need. Make a list of ways you can use your time and talent to make a difference in your community. Spread peace and love by actually taking action to help others, not just saying, “I’m thinking of you.” Teach your children about social responsibility and selflessness. Or check out this list of suggestions, posted by a new friend of mine today on Facebook.

….This morning John said to me, “We need to keep focusing on being mindful.” Yes, we really do.

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