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August 4, 2019

How Many More Innocent Children Have to Die before someone (like you) takes Action?

*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here.
Warning: salty language ahead. 

 

 

There’s been another mass shooting. There are multiple fatalities. Again. It’s the same old story. It’s another young man with anger and a rifle.

As I write this, the horrible news is breaking out of El Paso.

Last weekend, it was a garlic festival; this weekend, it’s a Walmart. As I write this, we don’t have details. We don’t know the names of the El Paso dead, or their stories, or their ages. We don’t have their photos. Soon we will, but right now all we know is there are a lot of them, and that they were innocent. Some of them may have been children. We don’t know yet.

Someone will say, “thoughts and prayers.” Someone always does.

I call bullshit. Don’t pray. Prayers don’t help. I know that sounds crass, but it’s true. After a mass shooting, I used to think that there was no harm in calling for thoughts and prayers. I realized that thoughts and prayers don’t help, but surely they don’t hurt. I used to think if you feel better with thoughts and prayers, knock yourself out. Think and pray. I had a passing acquaintance with the spouse of one of the victims of the San Bernardino shooting on December 2, 2015. He had my thoughts and prayers. But nothing changed.

Last weekend Gilroy; this weekend El Paso. What town will be hit next weekend? Yours? Mine?

We thought something would change after Newtown. It did not. A score of children were mowed down by an assault weapon, and we changed nothing. We thought after Parkland, with center stage taken by the political acumen of the Parkland kids, “this time it will change.” It has not. A country music festival in Las Vegas, and nothing changed. A bar in Thousand Oaks, and nothing changed. Nothing changes because we send thoughts and prayers. We do nothing.

My spiritual adviser always tells me to “treat but move your feet.” He means, pray but then do something. The trouble is that we all have a limit to our energy. If we spend energy praying and sending thoughts then we are not spending the energy doing something. Let’s not waste another moment. When you pray you send your energy out, but that kind of energy is not change-making.

Instead of praying, let’s take the energy you might spend on your knees and put it to use on your feet. Do what you can do to stop gun violence. America needs every ounce of that energy. We need those of you who are praying to stop praying and start working. Move your feet.

How? We will begin to solve the problem of gun violence once we decide that our children are more important than our guns. Put pictures everywhere of the dead children in happier times: Kendrick Castillo in Colorado riding his quad. Stephen Luciano Romero, on his front porch in San Jose with a big smile on his face.

Americans lead with the heart. Let’s make it impossible for any person of voting age to escape the images of the happy innocent children, now dead because someone had access to an assault weapon.

Someone told me today that as an American, he has a God-given right to a gun. I call bullshit again. Nowhere in the Bible, or in Buddhist teaching, or in any other religion that I know of, does the spiritual leader call on his followers to bear arms.

The right to bear arms in in our Constitution, a man made document. That same document, for what it’s worth, also counted African-Americans held in bondage as three-fifths of a person.

We do not have a God-given right to a gun. What we have is children with God-given rights to live their lives without fear of some crazy person shooting them down while they are out on a weekend shopping excursion.

If you were thinking of prayers, don’t. Use the time you were going to pray to do something constructive. Formulate a plan. Write your congressman while the rage of this atrocity still boils inside you. Write something for Elephant Journal, while it is raw, as I did, while you still have a passion that comes from the hurt. Don’t let prayer dissipate your passion. Do something. Move your feet.

Contact your politicians here:

Act.

 

 

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author: Mark Shoup

Image: NBC News

Image: @mic / Twitter

Image: @elephantjournal / Instagram

Editor: Julie Balsiger