Lori Falce: Thoughts, prayers and actions
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of El Paso.
My thoughts and prayers are with the city of Dayton.
My thoughts and prayers are with the people who are left bleeding and broken. They are with the family members who are trying to make sense of funeral arrangements instead of back-to-school plans. They are with the survivors who will live the rest of their lives with a little piece of them trapped in a bubble of gunfire and fear.
I have too many thoughts. I don’t know that I have enough prayers.
What I keep are my feelings, and I feel that we need to do something with our thoughts and prayers beyond sending them like sympathy cards and tasteful funeral flowers.
Ruben Martinez, 11, of El Paso isn’t giving thoughts and prayers. He is giving love and action and an encouragement to others to follow him with his #ElPasoChallenge — an exhortation to do 22 good things in memory of those murdered Saturday.
Some Twitter followers have upped that idea, taking the total to 34 to represent the nine Dayton victims and the three killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. All victims of mass shootings. All in one week.
I love this idea because it provides a way for individuals to process their own grief and anger and frustration in ways that are not just healing for them, but could be healing for us all, which seems like a fitting memorial to inadvertent martyrs.
Maybe your acts are political like writing letters and starting petitions. Maybe they are spiritual like attending a vigil and charitable like giving your time to a shelter. Maybe they are practical like giving blood or raising money.
You could do something big like starting a nonprofit. You could do something small like taking your neighbor shopping.
But if the last week has taught us all anything, it is that no action is too small to have meaning when it is the last thing you do. Like the little girl who lost her life helping a relative who walked with a cane. Like the parents who died shielding their baby from bullets. Like the Washington High School graduate who was just having fun with friends before starting a new job helping cancer patients when he was cut down by gun shots.
Thoughts and prayers are the gas in the tank of an engine that could do something. They are a starting point. They are not a finish line.
If we had thoughts and prayers about slavery, we would still live with people in chains. If we had thoughts and prayers about polio, we would have a lot of kids in wheelchairs.
The point of thoughts is to find solutions. The point of prayers is to ask for the strength to find a way. The point of marrying them in the face of tragedy is to overcome it.
My thoughts and prayers are with the people who are suffering. My actions have to be an effort to stop the bleeding.
Lori Falce is a Tribune-Review community engagement editor. You can contact Lori at [email protected].