I see it in a lot places, such as Facebook; a tweet; or some sort of press release, perhaps, whenever something tragic happens (I’m paraphrasing):
My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time.
Our family’s thoughts and prayers are going out to all affected by this tragedy.
Let’s hold those close to us extra close today.
These sentiments are usually well-intended by folks who likely care about other people’s misfortunes—I don’t doubt that for a second. Maybe I’ve even said or typed one of the above. And perhaps the people expressing these thoughts really do pray for those going through a difficult experience as a way to try to help people, and I think prayer is a powerful thing.
Nonetheless many of us move on to the next tragedy, issue thoughts and prayers, and repeat the cycle. We go back to our vices and distractions. I’m as guilty as anyone of doing that.
But what are we really doing to make things better? What can we do? I’m no expert, but here’s some ideas:
- Vote. Happy with the status quo? Hate the status quo? Then vote. You also have the right to do nothing, but I’ve learned that something is always better than nothing in this case.
- Contact your local representative. Tell him or her how you feel, whether it’s at the state or federal level. If you don’t like his or her policies, vote about it.
- Protest peacefully. Views can be stated without riots. Don’t add to the garbage.
- Be kind. It’s not hard to have empathy for others. Try it.
- Change. No matter who you are or what’s in your past, you can change and improve yourself. It can take work, and people are not always supportive. But you can do it.
- Let your money talk. Don’t buy stuff that may fund a cause you don’t agree with.
- Volunteer. If you have time, assist your community.
- Serve. If you’re of age and able, join the military or become a first responder. Become a teacher, doctor or caregiver.
- Be a role model. Got kids? Be the person they need you to be.
- Pray. I never said it didn’t work!