Be Human, But Do Something. But Be Human.
Why can't we pray and act? I don't pray that a magical old-man-with-a-beard-in-the-sky god will use his powers to make all the "bad guys" go away. I pray for healing for the victims, those who lost loved ones so senselessly and suddenly, who are reeling and sick with unimaginable grief; that they will have the strength to keep going, because I can't fathom how I would if I were in their place. I put myself in their place and seek empathy and compassion for them in this time of bitter loss. Those prayers aren't to stop bullets and they don't keep me or anyone else from taking action.
Yes, we should be angry. But more importantly we should be clinging to every last shred of humanity we have. The people using this horrific tragedy and those like it as "more reason to keep their guns" to protect themselves have already lost their humanity. When we think that way we're reduced to animals--kill or be killed. (Never mind that no single "good guy with a gun" could have protected anyone from someone shooting an assault rifle from the 32nd floor of an adjacent building). We can't stoop to that level. But when you turn your anger toward prayers or use it to fuel your indignation, It does nothing but keep wheels spinning angrily in place. The prayers are not the problem. The problem is, how can we act? What can we do?
Everyone agrees we have to do something, but what? How can we truly mend this broken culture where the right to possess a tool used for taking a life is so much more important than the right to healthcare? Than true equity? Than preserving the lives of millions of refugees? I know people are angry. But we need to stop spouting pithy, vitriolic phrases like "prayers don't stop bullets" and direct all of our energy to the actual problem that's keeping us from getting anything done: if 500 wounded and 58 people dead isn't enough for our representatives to make a change, what good could a phone call do? What on earth could I possibly say to someone whose mind has not been changed even in the wake of 58 of their brothers and sisters having been slaughtered in one fell swoop?
It hurts so much, and we are so broken. I don't have an answer, but if we aren't the ones clinging to our humanity, to our sense of compassion and of belonging to one another, no one else will. So if people want to pray, let them pray. But we need to keep talking about this with one another and not at one another.