“Thoughts and prayers” after a national tragedy

Lyndsay Monsen, Copy Editor

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I rarely think like a Republican.

Across the board I am as liberal as they come and people who know me well can attest to how outspoken I am about these beliefs. But lately there has been something I seem to disagree with my like-minded friends on, and that is this new notion of “thoughts and prayers” being problematic after a mass tragedy occurs.

On Wednesday Feb. 14, 2018, a 19-year-old man walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkville, FL with an AR-15, killing17 individuals and wounding many others. Let me make one thing clear: this is a gun issue. No ordinary individual in our country needs this war weapon of an automatic rifle, and the fact that this troubled young man — who the FBI was notified of just months prior — was able to gain access to one is ridiculous.

I am sick of Congress not doing anything about this. I am sick of getting CNN updates on my phone that yet another person has just walked into a school with a gun. I am sick of the fact that this is already the 18th school shooting — as of writing — in America this year and it’s only the middle of February. There cannot be a 19th. Something has to be done.

But if our lawmakers need to pray while they do that, I completely understand.

I believe in the life-changing and world-altering power of prayer. Faith can move mountains and I have seen that happen. These families in Florida are grieving over the unimaginable, and they need our prayers right now more than ever.

If you don’t believe in that power, that is OK. I am not writing this with the intent to suddenly make everybody religious. It seems unfair to me, however, that so many are quick to attack these lawmakers for taking time to practice spiritual health and ask for healing and comfort for those affected. We all want to send our support to the victims and their families. Some of us just do it in different ways.

Normally I keep up with the news as all good journalists do, but it took me almost 48 hours to read a “New York Times” article about the shooting victims and their stories. I experienced the same thing after the Las Vegas shooting. And when I actually sat down and was able to comprehend this senseless tragedy, I cried. And I prayed.

For me, that was a coping strategy. I cannot understand why someone would ever go into a school and murder so many of his peers. I cannot be there personally to comfort the victims, but I believe that God will.

Now let me make a second thing clear: thoughts and prayers cannot be our only way of combatting this issue. God is not the president, nor does He have a seat in the Senate or the House of Representatives. If we want real change to occur, action must be taken and our current legislation needs to change. If Republicans want to place the blame on mental health then we should get more federal funding for mental health. We should also consider the fact that so many countries similar to the U.S. have stricter gun laws and do not have nearly as many gun violence issues. As the popular headline from “The Onion” says, “‘No way to prevent this,” says only country where this regularly happens.” We cannot continue to lose our children, teachers, and innocent people due to something so preventable.

But please, please, think twice before you post that tweet saying “Wow if you’ve been praying for school shootings to stop God must hate you.” That is simply untrue, and prayer is important for so many other reasons. Prayer can comfort those who are praying, and — I believe — it helps those on the receiving end as well.  There is nothing else like it.

If you would like to discuss or pray over any of these tragedies, College Ministries is available via [email protected], or by stopping by their office in the Center for Faith and Life.

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