This is going to be a quick one free from jokes. I actually just want people to think about it.
A dishonorably discharged former soldier dressed himself all up in tactical gear and went into a Texas church during their services. He did what anyone given these basic facts would expect him to do. Twenty-six people are now dead.
Thankfully, he’s dead, too.
The top trending hashtags and posts on social media are variations of “PrayersForTexas.”
This is a serious question. I’m not trying to be an asshole or be sarcastic. This is an honest question from one human being struggling to understand the world to another:
What are prayers supposed to do?
A man who was clearly psychotic already shot up people who were praying. They’re already dead. The worst has already happened to them. Their fates have already been sealed. What are prayers going to do for them now?
Are the prayers for the benefit of those left in the wake? The family members who have to deal with the horror? The people in that church who didn’t die will have the gut-wrenching images replay in their heads for the rest of their lives. They will watch their friends and loved ones die over and over and over in their memories every single day from here on out. What are “prayers” going to do for them, either?
If there is a god, he allowed someone to kill a house full of folks gathered for the sole purpose of praising him. These were his own people. These were the believers. Surely an all powerful, all knowing, all loving god could have easily stopped the series of events at any point along the way before any blood was shed.
Yet, the tragedy was not stopped.
What we’re left with then is a situation where if there is a god, he couldn’t help, or simply wouldn’t. Twenty-six people are dead. They’re gone. And they were taken in such a way that hundreds of lives are now utterly shattered. No god stopped it. No god prevented this from happening. No god intervened. And no god is going to help moving forward.
You know who could have stopped this?
Look, we have a serious mental health issue in this country, compounded by the easy access to mass murder tools. Every time something like this happens, it just highlights the fact that we’re doing fuck all about it. Maybe instead of praying and then going about our lives as if we’ve done something, we should ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. I know it’s hard. I know it will bring up many uncomfortable and difficult questions.
The shooter in this situation was a known threat. He had a long, well documented history of extreme violence. We can’t just say “oh, we never expected him to do something like this.” Folks DID know. And they allowed him far more freedoms than he should have been allowed given his history.
What’s the quote? Something like…the freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose. We’re so afraid of infringing on the rights of severely mentally unstable people that we’re endangering everyone else.
With good reason, I’ll grant you that. We used to be utterly terrible to the mentally ill. Until the 70s and 80s, mentally ill people were kept in, essentially, cages. It makes sense that in our deserved guilt over our own actions, we’ve gone too far the other way. In many cases, we’re putting their individual rights over the rights and safety of the rest of the community.
Folks, I’m not advocating for the horrible treatment the mentally ill suffered in the past. We CANNOT go back to that. I’m saying there IS a happy medium. There IS a way to structure our health system to treat criminally insane people with compassion while still keeping the world safe from them. I believe we CAN figure this out.
The ones we know for certain are actually here in this world, and who do, in fact, have the power to make things better.
This is not an anti-god rant. There very well may be a god. I don’t know. But he’s not here, right? He wasn’t there in that church. Of, if he was, he certainly didn’t stop shit from going down. If he was there, he was willing to let things play out as they would.
Maybe that’s the nature of any god that exists. Maybe there is a god, but he wants to just observe how we handle life.
Or maybe there’s no god at all.
Either way, the message is clear. We have to help ourselves. Even if you believe in god, our terrible history of mass murders HAS to be a wake up call that prayer is not going to fix things.
“Prayer gives me comfort.”
Then pray. If you want to pray, pray.
But don’t stop at the praying. It is not enough.
Say your prayer, then use that strengthened feeling you get as your motivation to make the changes we need. Vote for people who are pushing for mental health reform. Support hospitals that are researching new ways to identify and assist those on the edge. Speak up if you know someone is about to snap. Prove to those suffering in the wake of this horror show in Texas that you feel their pain, and you’re willing to dig in and help make sure this stops happening.
And for humanity’s sake, donate to make sure those poor people in Texas get the support and mental health services they need to heal. I cannot imagine life in their shoes right now. They are going to need all the help they can get. You can donate here:
This page has been verified as legitimate by GoFundMe, and all of the proceeds will go directly to the families in crisis.
Thus concludes my Musing for Monday, November 6, 2017. Think about it. Please. We need to.