F*#$ Your Thoughts and Prayers
Please excuse me for staring TRUTH off this week with a profanity. But if that’s what offends you in the wake of yet another school shooting, with elementary school children getting their heads blown off such that DNA testing was necessary to identify the victims- if that cuss word is what somehow violates your sense of decency, well, you can go fuck yourself. And you will also please excuse me if this seems like the umpteenth time I have written on this subject, but trust me, if you are sick of hearing me rant on and on about it, you can sure as hell bet that I am sick of having to write about it, but still not as sick as the families are of having to identify the bodies of their murdered children strewn across the schools they dropped them off at just a few hours earlier. So if you want me to shut up about our nation’s diseased relationship with gun culture, do something about it. Go tell your Congressional representatives to finally enact the gun legislation that over 90% of Americans support or vote them the hell out of office. Because until that happens, I am going to keep on writing about because, damn it, somebody sure as heck has to.
And don’t go sending your “thoughts and prayers” to the victims. Your thoughts and prayers don’t mean shit. They are just your fabricated pretension for exculpating yourself from their blood you have on your hands for not demanding action on guns long ago. You know- in the wake of Columbine or Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech or Parkland or god knows how many other school shootings that we have all gasped at in horror only to sit idly by and watch not a damn thing change. Thoughts and prayers are for cowards, for those who wish it didn’t happen but don’t demand the kind of societal change these atrocities should dictate. These families don’t need your thoughts and prayers. They need your action. Because while meaningful gun legislation may not bring their children back from the dead, it may just save their siblings from being the next fatalities in the never-ending barrage of school shootings that pervade this country and this country alone.
There have been 118 school shootings in the United States since 2018, 27 just this year. That’s more than the rest of the world combined, and it’s not even close. And don’t forget that most kids were out of school for an entire year during the pandemic. That’s 118 shootings in really what amounts to 3 years- about one each week school was actually in session. So for those of you who want to throw out that old-trodden NRA slogan that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, well, the guns sure do help, now don’t they? You don’t see mass baseball bat death fatalities around the globe now do you? We are, by far, the most armed nation on Earth with more guns than people and over 40% of American households having at least one gun, so do you really think it’s just a coincidence that all these guns lead to more deaths by guns? And for those, like resident village idiot Ted Cruz, who suggest that schools would be safer if we actually had more guns in them, but you know, in the hands of “good people” like security guards and teachers, please tell me why it is that countries that have outlawed guns like Great Britain and Australia have almost no school shootings whatsoever. Because unless you’re a brain-dead buffoon being spoon-fed NRA propaganda on the regular by right wing media, the answer to gun violence isn’t more guns, it’s a whole lot less of them.
Which brings me to the great irony in all of this because it is those same right-wing nutters I have been writing about wanting to strip women of their right to choose because they want to protect unborn fetuses who also are the most stringent supporters of gun rights. You know the same people who believe they have the right to proselytize to others and impose upon them their Christian religious convictions. Oh so you care so much about human life because it is so damn precious to you but when it comes to actually protecting the lives of children, you know the ones who are living and breathing and going to school each day- fuck them – because your guns matter more than their lives? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what Jesus would say. In fact, wasn’t it in Matthew 14 that Jesus famously said, “Protect the unborn so that they may make it to grade school where there they can be mowed down rightfully in the name of God because my ass loves me some AK-15’s, motherfucker”?
No, of course Jesus didn’t say that because the very notion of professing to be a “Christian”, or really just a decent human being, and also supporting gun rights is patently absurd. I mean God had 10 commandements- just 10 of them- and one of them was, and I quote, “Thou shall not kill”. He didn’t say “Thou shall not kill humans.” Nor did he say, “Thous shall not kill, except to defend others.” He said, “Thou shall not kill,” as in, “do not eliminate any of the life I have created for any reason,” so the idea of promoting weapons whose only aim is to kill other living creatures is essentially you giving a giant middle finger to the God you supposedly love. So yeah, once again, fuck your thoughts and “prayers”.
Instead of sending prayers, do something. Do what Jesus would do. Press your congressional representatives to enact meaningful gun legislation. Demand that they bring back the assault rifle ban that at least reduced the levels of gun violence in this country only to dramatically rise once those laws were allowed to sunset. Protest and speak out so that legislators hear your voice loud and clear and know that the people of this country insist something be done about our national epidemic of gun violence. Make them scared for their political lives, not their actual lives, by letting them know that you will vote them out of office should they continue to do nothing. Force them to stop sending out “thoughts and prayers” and actually go about the hard work of making America great, and safe for children, again.
Having experienced firsthand the agonizing grief associated with school shootings at the my own kids’ school just 3 years ago, I can speak to the way these mass shootings fracture a community and cut at the very soul of those who lay witness to the carnage. Our very social fabric continues to be torn apart with each and every passing week that brings yet another tragedy. Don’t just pray for change. Make it happen through will and dedication, through political pressure and individual perseverance. Make it happen. And in so doing, remind all of us that this is still a nation created by the people, of the people, for the people.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com