Your Prayers Mean Nothing

Your Prayers Mean Nothing

I have absolutely no qualms about opening this brief piece with a statement that, for some incomprehensible reason, is considered to be contentious.
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I have absolutely no qualms about opening this brief piece with a statement that, for some incomprehensible reason, is considered to be contentious:

Your prayers are worthless.

I’m not sorry to say it. I don’t care if that makes me heartless in your eyes. In fact, the extent to which I do not care is somewhat staggering. Over the past few days, since watching a video of a classroom not unlike the ones where I spent my high school years, I have been wrestling through some of the most tremendous anger that I have felt in my life. I have had trouble sleeping. I’ve spent hours disregarding my responsibilities, only able to scroll through the Twitter accounts of those who survived the most recent shooting in Florida. Most recent. It’s getting hard to keep track, isn’t it? Columbine is no longer the deadliest mass shooting at a high school in US history. On average, twenty-four children are shot every day in the USA. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed.

My sister is ten years old. She lives in Wisconsin, halfway across the country from where I go to school in Massachusetts. Every day, there is a part of my mind that expects to see her name and her face in the news as a victim of our oh-so-beloved country’s most recent mass shooting. And that isn’t delusion: that isn’t my chronic anxiety getting the better of me, plunging me into irrational paranoia. It is vigilance. It is not unrealistic to fear for my baby sister’s life. She is a fan of Minecraft, American Girl dolls, and visual art. In the sunroom of our house, her watercolor paintings are taped up above her drawing desk. One of our cats, an orange heap of fluff named Tansy, loves my sister more than anyone else in the world; she tolerates being dragged around the house and incessantly dressed up.

How many of the fourteen students murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were younger siblings? Don’t be fooled by the coldness of a numerical representation. Look at their faces. They are not hurt. They are not permanently disabled. They are not comatose. They are dead. The present and future of our planet will continue without them. They will not finish the books they were reading. They will not finish the homework weighing over their heads. They will not reciprocate any Valentine’s Day flirtations. They will not set foot inside a college. They will not get married. They will not have children. They will not get to say goodbye to their parents, their friends, their partners, their pets. And the traces of them will not go away. Their social media accounts will remain static ad infinitum. Their families will need to clean out their rooms, choose whether to sell their belongings.

The AR-15 used to commit these crimes was purchased legally.

The president and the political right are happy to proclaim that this violence would continue with or without stronger gun control, but in this case, they are wrong. Nikolas Cruz would not have vanquished seventeen infinities if such control were in place.

With gun control, Alyssa Alhadeff would still be playing soccer.

With gun control, Scott Beigel would still be teaching history.

With gun control, Martin Duque’s brother would not be going through the very scenario that terrifies me every day.

With gun control, Nick Dworet would have joined the swim team at the University of Indianapolis this fall.

With gun control, Aaron Feis would still be assistant coaching football.

With gun control, Jamie Guttenberg would be wrapping up her first year of high school.

With gun control, Chris Hixon would still be giving lunch money to students who didn’t have their own.

With gun control, Luke Hoyer would not have been buried before his grandparents.

With gun control, Cara Loughran would still be performing Irish dance.

With gun control, Gina Montalto would have someday picked out a prom dress.

With gun control, Joaquin “Guac” Oliver would still be listening to hip-hop and enthusing over sports with his girlfriend, Victoria.

With gun control, Alaina Petty would continue to do volunteer work, as she did in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

With gun control, Meadow Pollack would be attending Lynn University in a few months.

With gun control, Helena Ramsey would still be engaged in relentless motivation towards her academic studies.

With gun control, Alex Schachter would have continued to hone his talent for trombone playing.

With gun control, Carmen Schentrup would have taken advantage of her status as a National Merit Scholar semifinalist in her college applications.

With gun control, Peter Wang would not be absent from the ROTC program at his school.

With gun control, I may soon enough be saying, my sister would have been able to come home and work on her gorgeous array of watercolor paintings.

Did you skim that list? Did your eyes glaze over? Did you find it repetitive or boring? Do you remember even three of the names I just told you?

And yet you send families your “prayers.” And you go back to enjoying your illusion of safety. You keep vaguely hoping that your child, your sibling, your grandchild won’t be next.

There are people who will say these deaths should not be politicized. I believe they should not be romanticized. I’ve watched the videos. I’ve seen the children lying in pools of blood. Seventeen lives are now lost, and countless more are broken.

A week ago, no one predicted this. This Monday, these kids were making weekend plans.

When will the next one be? It could be today. It could be tomorrow. But it will come. We’ll all see the trending tag on Twitter, or we’ll hear about it on the radio, or we’ll get our own calls from the hospital and learn that this time, we weren’t so lucky.

Our passivity is pathetic. This seven-year-old girl, living with PTSD, was more effective than every single person who tweets their “prayers” or their “grief” or their “sympathy.”

We need to push for better gun control now. The argument that violence will continue even with control is utterly irrelevant. If gun control saves one life--just one--it will be worth the tedium. This time, it could have saved seventeen.

Silence is compliance. Your prayers save no one. We need to make change, and we need it now, before hundreds more lives are shattered in the space of a single unexpected day.

Cover Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures

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The 10 Most Important Things You Need To Know About Relationships

Without communication, there is no relationship; without respect, there is no love; and without trust, there is no reason to continue.
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When you see an old couple holding hands or sharing romantic kisses while sitting on a park bench, doesn't that spark warm feelings of love and happiness in your heart? Doesn't it make you think about how they maintained their relationship for so many years when couples you know have trouble making it past six months? And of course, some people are not made for each other and so their relationship just simply doesn't work. But then there are couples who give up the minute an obstacle comes along, which makes you think their relationship wasn't truly important to them in the first place. What everyone has to understand in order to preserve a strong, happy, and prosperous relationship is that love is colorful, and the same kind of love doesn't exist for everyone. Being in a loving relationship that continues to thrive, I'm going to share some of the few things that I believe should exist between two lovers who want to sustain their prosperous relationship.

1. Communication

Communicating with your partner is essential. I'm sure you've heard it before, but communication is key. If something is bothering you or what your partner wants to do isn't what you're interested in, say something! Neither you nor your partner are mind readers, so how are they supposed to know how you feel if you keep your feelings bottled up inside? Not speaking up and communicating your ideas, feelings, desires, and wants is unhealthy because one day you might blow up and say some things you'll either regret or feel sorry for saying. Communicate to find a middle ground in your relationship because it's unfair for one person to constantly accommodate the other. Relationships cannot grow without communication, so don't be afraid to speak your mind and embrace your thoughts.

2. Trust and Honesty

A relationship cannot continue without trust and honesty. By being honest with your partner, they have no reason to doubt you or not trust you. Trust is vital in a strong and successful relationship because you don't want to think twice about what your partner says or does. Almost anything can be acceptable in a relationship as long as you're honest with your partner. Being in a relationship doesn't mean that everything else in your life has to change. You can still see your friends, go out, and be your own person, but be honest with your partner with whatever you do because by hiding something from them, you might be giving them the perfect reason not to trust you.

3. Forgiveness

No relationship is perfect. That's because none of us are perfect. People make mistakes in everyday life in the same way that people make mistakes in relationships. Of course, there are some things that are unforgivable, such as cheating on your partner (at least in my eyes), because it means that your relationship didn't mean much to you anyway. But, most things can be forgiven. Forgiveness is extremely important and necessary in a relationship because we have to accept and be reminded that we aren't perfect. So if I bailed on you because something important came up or you had a bad day at work and said some things to me that should have been directed at someone else out of anger, it's okay. Sometimes all it takes is a simple I'm sorry and I forgive you.

4. Respect and Appreciation

Without respect and appreciation, there is no love. How can you disrespect the one you love and care for? Exactly: it's hard to find an answer. Respect is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Respect your partner by choosing your words carefully, honoring boundaries, being willing to compromise, showing consideration, and protecting your partner. Make sure you're being respected by knowing your worth, acting honorably, setting and upholding boundaries, being a man or woman of your word, and showing respect for yourself. Appreciate your partner for who they are, the things they do for you, the support they give you, and the growth that they contribute in building your own identity.

5. Emotional Support

Real men don't cry is a load of bullshit. I have been blessed to be surrounded by a few strong and courageous men in my life who I've seen shed a tear or cry when losing a loved one or simply out of pure happiness. We all have emotions and though we try to hold them in check, those emotions sometimes boil over. In relationships, it's important to show emotional support for your partner, regardless if they are a man or a woman. So when your partner is going through a tough time or is struggling for whatever the reason might be, stray away from the pathetic Be A Man go-to phrase and be their shoulder to lean on. If your partner knows that you're emotionally there for them, they might have an easier time opening up to you in the future.

6. Humor

Sharing laughs and smiles with the one you love is extremely important. After all, being in a relationship is sharing your life with someone you care for, cherish, and have fun with. Being able to joke around and laugh with one another is extremely healthy for your well-being and the relationship. It's not just about fun and games, but it's also no fun to be so serious and stern about everything. Keep your relationship alive with some humor, adventure, and daily laughs to see the smile of your loved one!

7. The Magic of Small Things

The small things in life are actually not that small. There are times where the smallest deed can make someone the happiest and that's usually because the small things are the most thoughtful ones. Preparing breakfast when your partner is too tired or surprising them with an iced caramel latte on their way home from work can be enough to make their day. The small things really do count and they are remembered more than you might think. There's something magical in knowing that your partner feels appreciated and happy that they have the privilege of calling you mine. And the small things can do just that.

8. Sharing Interests

Having things in common with the one you love and sharing interests with your partner is perfect because neither one of you need to accommodate the other! There will be days where both you and your partner will not want to do the same things and a middle ground will have to be met, but sharing interests makes it easier when looking for fun things to do and finding things to talk about! Having a few similar interests like bike riding or playing football allows you and your partner to have your "thing," the thing that brings you two together. Liking similar things is also a perfect conversation starter, but also talking about your dislikes and things that you don't agree on can spark an intense and even more enticing conversation!

9. Celebrate Achievements

The happiness you feel because of your own achievements should be the same feeling you get when your partner accomplishes something they've been striving for, no matter how little it may be. Whether it be winning the Noble Peace Prize, having a 4.0 GPA, or hitting a new record at the gym, no achievement should go unnoticed. Being proud of your partner's achievements can strengthen your relationship and bring the both of you closer together.

10. Love and Affection

Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life. This might strike you at first, but what's the point of being successful, rich, happy or really anything else if you have nobody to share it with? Love is one of life's greatest gifts. It brings people together and allows them to build a life that some can only dream of. But sometimes love is not enough to maintain a prosperous and healthy relationship. That's because relationships aren't easy, people are so different from one another, and relationships take much effort and patience. But in the end, if you don't have love in a relationship, you really don't have anything. Take the time to show your partner some affection, to make alone time a priority. The kisses, hugs, and even sex is something that in the end does make a relationship healthy. But without love, all of that means nothing.

Every relationship struggles, but only strong relationships get through it. Take the time to focus on these ten things that are important in keeping the love alive and feelings between you and your partner strong. And most importantly, remember that no one falls in love by choice; it's by chance, and no one falls out of love by chance--it's by choice.

Cover Image Credit: Marika Cygert

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8 Types Of People Fetuses Grow Into That 'Pro-Lifers' Don't Give 2.5 Shits About

It is easy to fight for the life of someone who isn't born, and then forget that you wanted them to be alive when you decide to hate their existence.

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For those in support of the #AbortionBans happening all over the United States, please remember that the unborn will not always be a fetus — he or she may grow up to be just another person whose existence you don't support.

The fetus may grow up to be transgender — they may wear clothes you deem "not for them" and identify in a way you don't agree with, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them a mentally unstable perv for trying to use the bathroom.

The fetus may grow up to be gay — they may find happiness and love in the arms of someone of the same gender, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them "vile" and shield your children's eyes when they kiss their partner.

The fetus may grow up and go to school — to get shot by someone carrying a gun they should have never been able to acquire, and their life will mean nothing to you when your right to bear arms is on the line.

The fetus may be black — they may wear baggy pants and "look like a thug", and their life will mean nothing to you when you defend the police officer who had no reason to shoot.

The fetus may grow up to be a criminal — he might live on death row for a heinous crime, and his life will mean nothing to you when you fight for the use of lethal injection to end it.

The fetus may end up poor — living off of a minimum wage job and food stamps to survive, and their life will mean nothing to you when they ask for assistance and you call them a "freeloader" and refuse.

The fetus may end up addicted to drugs — an experimentation gone wrong that has led to a lifetime of getting high and their life will mean nothing to you when you see a report that they OD'd and you make a fuss about the availability of Narcan.

The fetus may one day need an abortion — from trauma or simply not being ready, and her life will mean nothing to you as you wave "murderer" and "God hates you" signs as she walks into the office for the procedure.

* * *

Do not tell me that you are pro-life when all of the above people could lose their lives in any way OUTSIDE of abortion and you wouldn't give 2.5 shits.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is gay or trans, you will berate them for who they are or not support them for who they love.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is poor or addicted, you will refuse the help they desperately need or consider their death a betterment of society.

You fight for the baby to be born, but when the used-to-be-classroom-of-fetuses is shot, you care more about your access to firearms than their lives.

It is easy to pretend you care about someone before they are even born, and easy to forget their birth was something you fought for when they are anything other than what you consider an ideal person.

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