After the recent school shooting in Florida, where another 17 students were mowed down by a disgruntled student with an AR-15 weapon, President Trump tweeted his “prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” Later he stated: “Our entire nation, with one heavy heart, is praying for the victims and their families. To every parent, teacher, and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you — whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain.” And then he went off and played golf. This is the man who received 30 million dollars from the NRA and was quoted as saying (and I paraphrase): “You were good to me, so I will be good to you.”
There have been over 10 school shootings in America in the past six weeks alone, and guns have been fired in schools 18 times since 2018 began. There were 58 shootings since the beginning of the school year, according to Everytown, a gun control advocacy group. Of the 13 worst school shootings in America’s history, only three happened in the eighties or nineties. The rest were all within about 10 years, with five happening in a little over two years: Dec 2015-Feb 2018. The biggest two happened in the last two years as well with the Las Vegas and Orlando shootings. (See The Guardian Feb 15, 2018.)
So I’m guessing thoughts and prayers aren’t working. We can’t really leave this up to God when we have mostly Republican congressmen receiving huge gifts from gun advocacy groups. According to Politico.com, Republicans received 5.9 million in gifts and Democrats about 100K in the 2016 election year, with top donations going to congressmen like Paul Ryan, who personally received $336K.
I’m thinking that instead of thoughts and prayers, that hearing this might be more helpful: “I’m sorry that my greed and my need for power made me accept blood money that is now killing your children.” That would be a start. And then outlawing and buying back all semi-automatic weapons, that are not helpful for self-defense or hunting, would be the next thing to do. But it begins with the word Sorry. Or how about “I’m sorry we cut taxes for corporations and billionaires and won’t have enough money to feed the poor, but at least we’ll be giving them food they don’t want or can’t eat in little boxes somehow delivered to their front door?”
I’ve been thinking about this issue of apology a lot lately in my conversations with clients. So many of my clients, who are smart and talented and hard-working, would benefit from hearing Sorry from emotionally abusive parents, in two cases, who never heard what the client needed as a child, so these clients struggle as adults to believe that their needs are valid. Or how about another client hoping that her father will stop negating the choices she is making, by constantly trying to steer her to another path, even though she’s doing great? Or how about my friend whose husband has been emotionally abusive for years– what if he apologized and got help? Or the friend with the husband who has been cheating for years? “I’m sorry I betrayed you and it’s not your fault. I’m going to get help” would go a long way.
I’m kind of tired of thoughts and prayers. After bouncing around a lot of churches over the years, trying to find our “church home” we finally gave up, after the last very liberal minister tried to convince me that hiding illegal aliens was more noble than giving to the Americans who are starving and homeless in our own backyard. I think it felt sexier to him to get caught up in the Sanctuary Movement, even though it was against the wishes of many parishioners. As I said to my kids, “If every American was fed and clothed and safe and warm and had a good job, then we could give amnesty to all these new poor people who snuck in illegally. But if we can’t take care of our own– all the Native Americans who were here first and all the African Americans whom we stole and forced onto ships– then we have no business hiding foreigners. Hearing a Sorry from our minister might have allowed us to stay, but in the end, he felt like he was part of the Underground Railroad, saving people who didn’t belong here and forgetting that he was abandoning all the ancestors of slaves in our own neighborhood.
As you think about your world stage, remember to listen not just to what people say, but to what they do. Learn to follow the money to understand people’s actions. If it’s not about money, it’s about power for so many people sadly. But if you can stand up for what is right and expose the hypocrisy of all the greedy, power-hungry people offering thoughts and prayers, as opposed to real life-changing solutions, then you will be on your way to claiming your world stage.