Forgive me if I sound like I’m preaching a bit today. I am the grandson of a fire and brimstone Pentecostal preacher – a man who literally shook the dust from his feet when wronged by his leadership – and sometimes that comes out in me.
I am also grieving, today, for the parents of children that will never come home. For the grandchildren who will never see their grandmothers again. For a holiday weekend in Texas and New York that brings funeral plans instead of family outings. For a weekend when we’re supposed to be honoring the fallen, but not like this.
And I’m angry at a leadership, on both sides of the aisle, too cowardly to take any action at all, other than to offer thoughts and prayers.
My partner read to me from an article by a rabbi the other day, with a quote about how prayers without action are a sin in the Judaic tradition. It reminded me of a verse that my grandfather would have known by heart, but that I had to look up.
So too, faith by itself, if it does not result in action, is dead. – James 2:17
In full context, James is talking about offering verbal support, such as telling someone to “stay warm and well fed” but not providing for those needs. But the meat of his statement is built on that same Judaic tradition – words and thoughts, without action, are meaningless.
So, I will ask you to forgive me if I’m a little fed up with the thoughts and prayers of our politicians. Forgive me if I’m angry at those who offer thoughts and prayers for Buffalo, while continuing to play up racial division for votes.
Forgive me if I’m angry at those who offer thoughts and prayers for Uvalde, while doing nothing to promote – and at times actively obstructing – greater access to mental healthcare.
Forgive me if I’m angry at those who have offered thoughts and prayers for Uvalde, for Sandy Hook, for Columbine, for Grayson, but done nothing to keep guns out of the hands of the unstable and irresponsible.
Let me be clear here – I am in no way calling for any sort of ban on any class of firearms. Period. I don’t want my point derailed by that thought. I’m a hunter. I’m firearm owner who has used his shotgun to scare off a prowler. I was born and raised here in eastern Kentucky, and I understand all the different reasons people need a gun living in a rural area.
I don’t want to ban guns. But we need to do something.
We need to do something to increase access to mental health.
We need to do something to make sure those who have threatened hateful actions can’t access firearms.
We need to do something to make sure if they do, they can’t do the kind of damage we’ve seen in recent weeks.
We need to do something more than offer thoughts and prayers and continue as if there is nothing more we can do.
Once the NRA supported expanded background checks, or at least they said they did. Now, with the ubiquity of cell phone and internet technology, there’s really no reason we couldn’t have a system for instant background checks – even at gun shows. The organization no longer supports these types of checks, though.
But maybe it’s time for the organization to rethink that opposition, and their stance that access to extended magazines is a sacrosanct right. After all, you aren’t allowed to have more than three shells in your shotgun during turkey season, and if it will hold more you need to insert a plug to guarantee they hold no more.
Don’t grandmothers in grocery stores deserve as much protection as wild turkeys? Don’t the innocent children in our schools?
That’s what we’re talking about here. The innocent. The most vulnerable.
The people killed in Uvalde and Buffalo weren’t BLM, or Antifa, or Proud Boys, or Klansman, or criminals. They were little old ladies and little children.
They deserve more than our thoughts and prayers. They deserve some action.
If we can’t offer them more than that, then our prayers are worthless, and we’re no better than those hypocrites Matthew spoke of – those who sounded a trumpet before them “in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.” (Matthew 6:3)
I want more from my elected officials than trumpets and platitudes. I want some faith with action.