by Bil Aulenbach

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No More “Thoughts and Prayers”

I have a friend in the Bay Area who emails me cartoons that are political as well as funny. Last week, he sent me a cartoon showing a machine gun going “blam blam blam” under the caption “Semiautomatic.” Then, under the caption “Fully Automatic,” a man labeled “Congress” continuously says “Thoughtsandprayersthoughtsandprayersthoughtsandprayersthoughtsandprayers.”

I thought this cartoon was extremely clever, and I immediately associated it with the words so many of our politicians say after another tragic shooting of students, or other innocent people, by a crazy gunman with a semiautomatic weapon.

In today’s world, I see “My thoughts and prayers go out to you” as code words that sound nice and sort of holy but really say something like this: “I’m sort of sorry your kid got murdered or wounded by going to school but not sorry enough to rein in the National Rifle Association or change any laws. After all, the NRA is our bank, and our bank is a hell of a lot more important that your dead kid.” In short, this thought means nothing more than “I don’t care!”

I keep thinking of one congresswoman who allegedly received over a million dollars from the NRA and has done nothing about the mass killings. Yikes!

School massacres happen almost weekly in our country, yet not one new gun control law has been passed, nor has the NRA been slowed down an iota, nor has anyone suggested that killing innocent young children is not a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

As a “religious” person, I have heard the phrase “My thoughts and prayers go out to you” for years. Up until now, these words expressed deep sympathy for some tragedy in someone’s life. I have used these words myself. But I won’t anymore!

Politicians have trivialized this phrase to such a degree that I find it offensive. These same do-nothing politicians have also trivialized their offices and the Second Amendment. I often wonder why we even have a Congress when people seek election not to make our country better but to feather their own nests.

I have the same reaction when politicians end their speeches with “God bless America.” Does that include Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America? Or just the United States of America? Does it include all Democrats, Republicans, Green Party members, and independents? How about the socialists, the Tea Party, or the communists?

Whose god are these politicians asking for a blessing? The Jewish one, the Muslim one, the Scientologists’ one, the Mormon one, or one from another religion?

And how is this “blessing” to be delivered by whatever god brings blessings?

What’s even sadder is that if politicians fail to say this trite, meaningless phrase, their whole career could be ruined.

I have some ideas for more honest phrases. Instead of “God bless America,” politicians could say “Get out and vote” or “God bless me so I can win, and while you’re at it, please give my opponent a life-ending disease” or “May God help the United States build a special bomb so we can wipe Iran (or any country we choose) off the face of the earth.”

I’m getting silly but not quite as silly as “thoughts and prayers” or “God bless America.” Any thoughts?


Image courtesy of Portland Seminary (CC BY-SA 2.0)

4 Responses to No More “Thoughts and Prayers”

  • I agree with you! Trump has made those words “my thoughts and prayers go out to you” even more meaningless than usual. What are “thoughts and prayers” supposed to do? Where was God when the holocaust happened if “thoughts and prayers” help?

    It is my belief that we are the hands of God and WE are supposed to do what we can to make a difference in our world. God is not coercive. God attempts to persuade US to make a difference in our immediate world.

    When I pledge allegiance to our flag and it says “liberty and justice” for all, I always say “liberty and justice for SOME”…because over 800 innocent people have been released by DNA evidence since the innocence project was instigated.

  • Well said

  • What do I do when I hear about another active shooter situation? I don’t vote for candidates who received money from the NRA but that hasn’t really changed any of my voter decisions. My spendable income (income after basic needs), is close to zero due to health issues. Even my strength lets me down at times. It is ridicules to think my few pennies could matter against the billions that the NRA can raise from gun sales and contributions from around the world. I do have many friends and even more contacts, but instead of being a persuader, I often feel like I’m a squawking penguin in the middle of an enormous waddle, all screaming the same song. Almost all my contacts and friends have similar views, at least regarding guns, and I often feel like my sphere of influence is very small at best. When I say, “My thoughts and prayers go out to you,” I am saying, “I feel helpless and all I have are my prayers.”
    On the other hand, during the 2018 Primaries, less than 25% of the registered voters in Orange County cast a vote. The midterm we expect that number to more than double, but we will still see a percentage of less than 60% voter turnout. In the primaries, Mimi Walters won by a considerable advantage. A vote for Mimi Walters is a vote for the NRA. The Mimi Walters advantage is expected to drop in the midterm election due to the elimination of several very good Democratic candidates. There is only a 10% difference in the number of registered Democrats and Republicans in Orange County. This is a very politically elastic area with the majority of votes cast in the 2016 presidential election supporting Hillary Clinton.
    The Republicans are banking on boosting their voter turnout by supporting the state initiative ban on the gas tax. Their campaign will be heavily funded by the gas industry and the NRA. This initiative is going to be a very hard battle in Orange County. Take a good long look at our transportation infrastructure. In most cases, roads and freeways are over 50 years younger here than they are in Los Angeles and many other older cities. We have virtually no public transportation which will become a big problem as we grow. Even though voters don’t always have long-term outlooks, we have already seen a successful no growth initiative in the last primary election as people opted out of growth in favor of the VA cemetery, despite a heavily funded opposition. Our elderly population will not like the idea of ambulances stuck in traffic. Sports enthusiasts and their bosses will not like lost work days as they sit in traffic and parking structures for hours after paying $100 dollars a ticket for new sports facilities in LA. Nobody likes the daily commute to work and around town getting worse every year. Still, nobody likes paying an extra $10 – $20 per month on taxes, (even more than that if your job requires local travel.) It is going to be a very hard sell. We are going to have to get our friends to the polls, even our friends who would gladly sit in traffic an extra hour a day for $10 – $20 a month.
    It is true, I cannot compete with the NRA’s money but I might be part of a wave that helps make the NRA pay millions of dollars in a very heated local battle. With such a low voter turnout, I might make a difference by asking all my friends and contacts to vote. Social Media is not expensive. I could let everyone know that I am willing to drive them to the polls. What would I say to a victim of an active shooter incident? Sadly, I would probably still use the old cliché, “My thoughts and prayers go out to you,” even though that does sound useless. My faith is not always as strong as the saints I admire but I do believe in the power of prayer in whatever form that might take. I know hopelessness and Christianity are dynamically opposed belief systems. My silence and weakness have always been my greatest sin. I hope I would also add, “What can I do? How can I help your movement?”

    • Thanks Tom for you thoughtful unput.
      The fist thing we need to do is to change the”climate” within the country. This present regime seems to have changed their idea from Make America Great Again to Make America Hate Again.
      We can’t even talk with folks from the other side of the fence. That’s very dangerous in a democracy and you know who we have to thank.

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