The Problem with Thoughts and Prayers

“I sit really, really close to the door,” she said. “If someone came running down the hall with a gun, I wouldn’t have time.”

Please take a moment to process that quote. Really read it.

Those words came from a high school student. A student who is calculating not her trigonometry functions, nor her AP physics problem, but rather her ability to survive a day at school. Will my heart still be beating at the end of this class?

I’m not sure how we got here.

If you’re reading this from somewhere in America, you’re probably right there with me. You likely share the same sense of dread and outright disbelief that this is our world; this is our children’s world.

Our kids now sign an invisible contract merely by walking through a set of school doors once they turn six. A contract that goes something like this: “By walking into this building, I understand and acknowledge that I may not survive this day.”

Here we are, in an America where politics have come to count for more than the individual. Where our worship of guns, our protecting of a collection of words has trumped our desire to protect souls.

This is the invisible contract our kids sign simply by walking through a set of school doors once they turn six: “By walking into this building, I understand and acknowledge that I may not survive this day.”

What’s our tipping point? Who’s going to save us from ourselves?

Is it going to be Congress, whose sluggish response to every high school shooting since Columbine has been to have a bipartisan public slap-fight until the American people tire of their antics (and inaction)?

Or is it the NRA, who lets loose their spokeswoman to blame the media for this reign of terror?

Or what about the moms and dads who have experienced loss at the deepest of levels… is it their problem to fix? The brave ones who have been screaming for change? The ones who have made it their life’s mission–in the face of utter devastation–to turn this ship around. Do you hear them? Or do you turn away because you’re ashamed that you don’t agree?

And don’t even get me started on “thoughts and prayers.” Those two words that trick us into thinking they are enough. In this case, they are the empty calories of our language—satiating is just long enough until the next disaster strikes. A mirage, soothing us into thinking the oasis is around the corner (it’s not).

[Thoughts and prayers] are empty calories of our language—satiating is just long enough until the next disaster strikes. A mirage, soothing us into thinking the oasis is around the corner (it’s not).

Start with thoughts and prayers, fine, but let’s not end there. We just can’t afford to.

Because our kids matter. They matter more than guns.

Let their classroom dreams be of how they are going to change this world, not merely survive it. Because this world? This isn’t how our kids should live. And by God, it’s not how they should die.

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