I’ve been agonizing about writing this blog for over a week.
When the news broke that yet another school shooting had claimed the lives of dozens of innocent people, it didn’t take long for news headlines and Facebook posts to flood the internet with arguments about why gun control won’t work, and how anybody who thinks that it will is a “special kind of stupid,” or a “libtard.” None of these immature or inaccurate accusations really hurt my feelings anymore, but there is one that makes my blood boil every time I see it – the one that suggests that school shootings happen because God isn’t allowed in schools anymore.
For eleven days, I agonized over writing this blog in the appropriate fashion. I didn’t want to be accusatory, I didn’t want to be emotional, and I didn’t want to be offensive. I agonized about marring my mostly upbeat, quirky blog with such a dark subject. I agonized about losing one of my few dozen followers. But you know what? I don’t care.
Why should I care about offending someone who is constantly telling the left to toughen up? Why should I care about hurting the feelings of someone who thinks it’s okay to mock the disabled and sexually assault women? Why should I concern myself with being politically correct towards those who abhor the very term? Why should I consider the feelings of those who love weapons more than their children?
I don’t care anymore. If there are people out there who are not sickened by the slaughter of innocent human lives, the words in this blog will not affect them.
Questions Without Answers
I made a vow to myself in early 2017 to not get into arguments with strangers on Facebook anymore, and I’m proud to say that for the most part I have kept that promise. There have been a few occasions where something on social media sticks in my craw, but instead of being impulsive and lashing out right away, I’ve managed to gather my thoughts and feelings, do some research, assemble said thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner, and write about the subject in my blog. But this time, the anger has not subsided. If anything, my blood has gone from simmering to boiling over in the last week and a half.
The notion that mass shootings are a result of a godless society or a lack of religion in schools is completely invalid for a number of reasons, the first and most obvious being that mass shootings have taken place inside churches.
So I have a few questions for people whose thought process echoes that of the t-shirt I have pictured above –
Were the people in those churches not praying enough? In the right way? To the right god? Isn’t God everywhere, for everyone, even if that person is a skeptic, a non-believer, or a worshipper of another type of god?
Do you not think that the victims of these attacks prayed for their safety on a daily basis? Do you not think that the parents of these children prayed nightly for their kids to return home? Do you not think that the victims, as their friends lay dying, didn’t pray for God to spare them?
If you believe that massacres happen because of a godless society, do you mean to infer that the victims of these massacres were godless people? And even if they were, does an atheist or agnostic person have less of right to live than someone who is devoutly or moderately religious? Don’t most religions preach that all lives are valuable?
And do we, as humans, doubt our intelligence and problem-solving skills so much that we are content to shrug our shoulders and leave it “in God’s hands?”
Let’s look at this on a less controversial level — (although, to quote a local radio personality, what kind of world are we living in where it is controversial to talk about preventing the slaughter of innocent people?)
If you were diagnosed with cancer, sure, you’d pray. But you would also seek treatment, become more health conscious, and follow the advice of your doctors. If you were applying for a new job or a promotion, you might ask God to grant you the opportunity, but you’d also write a great cover letter and give an impressive interview. If the roof of your home was leaking, you might ask God to keep your family and possessions safe. But you would also make repairs or contact a professional to correct the issue.
So why is it different when it comes to gun violence?
And if these “thoughts and prayers” actually worked, would we need them repeatedly, month after month, year after year?
If you believe in the power of prayer, that’s great. I’m not here to question your faith or criticize you for appealing to a higher power during life’s trials and tribulations. But these scenarios remind me of a story I stumbled upon years ago. I think it’s appropriate to paraphrase here –
A man was trapped in his house while flood waters outside were rising fast. Having no transportation of his own, he began to pray for God to save him. A few minutes later, his neighbor stopped by with his pickup truck and offered him a ride to safety. The man refused, stating that he trusted God to look after him. The neighbor sped away.
The man continued to pray, but as the waters rose he had to move to the roof. A boat floated by, and its occupants tried to coax the man to join them. Again he refused, saying that God would save him.
As the dry spot of the roof grew smaller and smaller, the man began to pray harder than ever before. He eventually saw a helicopter hovering overhead, and the rescuers sent down a ladder, encouraging the man to climb up. Again, the main refused, confident in his beliefs.
The water eventually engulfed the house and the man drowned. When he got to heaven, he asked God why he didn’t save him. God explained that he had sent the man three opportunities to be rescued, but he had refused each one of them. And God asked, “What else could I possibly do for you?”
I’m not sure whether or not I believe in God. I don’t have all the answers. One person or belief system can’t fix everything either. But whether or not you believe in a higher power or not, it is undeniable that we have been given tools and opportunities to solve these problems, just like the man in the story. Let’s do whatever it takes to put change into action.
The cover photo for this piece is a photo from the Columbine Memorial in Littleton, CO. Neither this image or the t-shirt image are mine but belong to the original photographer/creator.