‘Thoughts and prayers’?

 

What role are you playing to end mass shootings in America? Start outside social media

If I were to log onto Facebook I can easily say my newsfeed would be flooded with a tidal wave of comments and concerns about the horrific shooting that occurred in Parkland, FL. Issues that seem to constantly resurface in the wake of mass shootings are gun control policies, public safety, mental health, white supremacy/terrorism, and more, but perhaps the image making the most waves on social media is “thoughts & prayers” crossed out and replaced by “policy & change.” I understand the sentiment behind this image has been brought about because often after horrendous acts of violence like this occur, what seems to be a passive response is to take a few seconds out of one’s day to type “thoughts & prayers.” However, nothing seems to change, and in a few months we say the same things just in regards to a new location and group of survivors.

While I firmly believe that “policy & change” need to be taken more seriously than ever before, I worry this phrase will be the new “thoughts & prayers,” ultimately a passive response to a dire problem which requires everyone’s active responses. Instead of trying to say lawmakers, our representatives, and the Trump administration need to do something (which I agree they do) We also need to ask ourselves even harder questions. “How are my actions or inactions contributing to a society in which mass shootings have become the norm?” “How could I be doing a better job at creating a community of peace and nonviolence?” Honestly, I can only do so much to try to ensure that my representatives are implementing gun reform policies, but I am in charge of my actions and I am responsible for them.

This is not to be interpreted as another feeble attempt to not make major changes in the ways in which we prevent and handle shootings of this caliber. Quite the opposite – I am proposing a more uncomfortable and radical option to this issue, one that asks for greater empathy and patience and requires everyone to make a change. It’s easy to say this isn’t our problem, that we are not the ones who shot and killed people, or that it’s not our jobs to create change -because it is. We cannot keep kidding ourselves that this issue only impacts the people who were there or the people in power, but how are we as individuals contributing to such a violent society and how can we make steps towards a change?

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