Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Honorable mention — High school essay contest: Angeline Ajit

Vol. 36 No. 06 August 2019
Angeline Ajit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Thoughts and prayers don’t stop bullets

By Angeline Ajit

The unceasing fear of being gunned down in the places we should feel safest. The constant practicing of active shooter drills. We have watched violence continue without

resolution. We have watched officials with the authority and power to create change fail to do so. This is the reality the youth in America faces today.

Throughout the year, mass walkouts have been held all around the country. Students lead efforts to speak in the most influential way they know how: civil disobedience, holding up signs as they march across streets, and chanting truth to power. These young people have already shown commitment to doing their part.

However, there has been no major gun-control legislation since Sandy Hook in 2012, although over 80 mass shootings have happened since then. In fact, more states have eased gun restrictions than tightened them.

Instead, the product of mass shootings is solely the utterance of “thoughts and prayers.” And the magnitude of mass shootings exists because not much is happening other than thoughts and prayers.

While the phrase “thoughts and prayers” seems like a kind expression of grief and condolences for victims of natural disasters and mass shootings, when NRA-funded lawmakers with pro-gun stances tweet it, they offer words as substitutes for corrective legislative actions, such as gun control policies. These senators and representatives are people with the power to change the world, yet they hide behind meaningless platitudes and hope that their acts of cowardice can be overlooked. And to politicians who previously used the idiom until recently, offering “condolences” isn’t any better.

In the wake of senseless tragedy, sending thoughts and prayers with the click of the mouse is easy, absolving the sender from the responsibility to act and making them feel better with their good intentions. The outcome of prayers can be a changed heart and a willingness to act on the behalf of others. However, religion gets in the way of progress when believers are lulled into a false sense of accomplishment because they think that God is hearing their pleas and will fix everything. In contrast, after a disaster, people should donate blood or send aid or money to help the victims. As Robert Green Ingersoll said, “The hands that help are better far than lips that pray.”

We need to close gun-show loopholes and straw-man purchases, digitize gun-sales records, outlaw high-capacity magazines, warrant universal background checks, and actuate a comprehensive assault weapons ban with an extensive buyback system.

When innocent Americans are dying and others live in fear of the next shooting, if all you have to offer is your broken heart, their blood is on your hands.

Thoughts have yet to do a single thing for the 93 people who lose their lives to gun violence every single day.

Thoughts and prayers don’t stop bullets.

God doesn’t stop bullets.

We need to stop wishing for a better world and make it.

Angeline, 16, is from Irving, Texas, and plans to attend the University of North Texas and would like to pursue a career in the medical field. She volunteers at the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, and is an active member of Science Olympiad and HOSA-Future Health Professionals.