#Prayers May Not Be the Solution --But They're Not the Problem Either!
Mind if I vent? I gotta vent!I like to keep it light on here generally so I apologize to my regular readers who come here for easy fare about books, clothes, decor and what-not but I'm kind of irritated by the whole "quit sending prayers" thing and I just need to vent a little.
Prayer Backlash in the Wake of Yet Another ShootingFollowing yesterday's San Bernardino shooting there has been a lot of press about prayer backlash. The Atlantic just published a rather interesting analysis of the politics involved and makes some worthwhile arguments. But I'd like to take a moment to address the issue from a more personal angle and here's my two cents: this whole prayer beef is bull. Oh I get it. People are angry. People want action. Specifically people want to see tighter gun legislation and better homeland security. People want to see results and above all they want to feel safe. But getting your knickers in a twist over people typing things like #PrayforSanBernardino --or in many cases #PrayforSanBernadino because people keep ditching the second R-- is just more smoke and mirrors separating you from taking real action. Because you know what, people gotta have something to say when they are confronted with such horrific news. People got to acknowledge other people's suffering somehow and if that involves the letters p-r-a-y in a tweet or a Facebook post then so bloody be it.
The Real Culprit is FearI think what is at the heart of this prayer controversy isn't politics, it isn't religion --BUT FEAR. We are terrified the killing won't stop. We are terrified over the fact that day after day we are sending out cyber prayers to people dead, dying, and grieving and it has become a routine part of our day. Perhaps it is the new normal of it all that is getting to us. The Grim Reaper has taken up residence with our daily social Graces and thus we need conventions to follow. We need things to say when chaos descends and chaos comes swift and often these days. Sending prayers out to some tragedy online is like saying "God Bless You" when someone sneezes or "Are you ok?" when someone stubs a toe. The consistency of it has rattled us but at the same time we need such constants that we can turn to and rest our fears upon, even if it just for the amount of time required to type 4 letters. We aren't actually taking to our chambers and kneeling down in prayer, forsaking all other actions, we're just taking a moment to breathe, to make sense of it all, to say "I recognize your pain and I send you love." In the immediate aftermath people need something to say, they need to express feeling and love and compassion so let people just take a moment to acknowledge the horror of it all and put it into words that we as a people can instantly process and maybe even take a little comfort in --and get on with the business of making things better.
Judgment Does Not Equal Action & Prayers Do Not Equal ApathyAlso think of this, what people do online can tell you all about them but it can also tell you nothing. Maybe that strident SJW you follow on Twitter is too damn busy reposting memes about gun control and condemning people for "just praying" to actually get off their duff and write their congressman about gun control. Maybe that friend on Facebook you know who is sending #prayers on the daily is actually doing something concrete in their community to make a difference.
In ConclusionIn conclusion I think we are so scared and hungry for answers we're just trying to create imaginary problems because we need problems we feel we can solve. Like it might feel good for a minute to get people to question their motivations about something they type on social media because it creates an illusion that we're actually generating dialogue instead of contributing to the noise. Newsflash: it's noise. And yes, we definitely need MORE than prayers right now. Prayers are not the end-all, be-all solution. But they're not the problem either. After all, when we pray to God we are not boasting that it is the answer, rather we're merely seeking help with the question.
Sending love and prayers to all, no tragedy required.