Action > Thoughts and Prayers

    My sister goes to the University of Dayton. At dinner in August, our waitress asked if she felt safe going back. She dodged the question, and I froze at it. It’s been two months since she was asked this, two months since the fatal shooting there. But I have not forgotten it, and she has not either. 

    She was not in the Oregon district during the shooting, and her friends that were back at school already were at different bars. But that did not make it easy for her to view her fellow students mark themselves ‘safe’ on Facebook from the shooter. That did not mean that she does not shutter at the sight of the bars she used to go to, or hate the way people ask for prayers rather than change. That did not make it easier for her home to be a place that is known now for that. 

    When people ask where my sister goes, I answer quickly. I don’t give them much time to process where it is I’m saying, and perhaps it’s been long enough that they’ve forgotten. It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, it’s that I know what they’ll ask. They’ll ask me if I’m worried about her being there. They’ll ask where she was during the shooting. They’ll tilt their head and look at me a type of way. They’ll send me their prayers, their thoughts. I do not need them. Not just because I was lucky enough to not be personally victimized by this, but because that does no change. That will not prevent this. Parkland survivors, El Paso families, Sandy Hook parents, they do not need thoughts. They need action. 

Image Courtesy of Author 

    The way we discuss shootings needs to change. It cannot be a conversation about where it happened, about prayers, about feeling so sorry that it happened. About how they must not feel safe in this place anymore. Shootings happen everywhere. This must be discussed. We must talk about it, how much it hurts, how much it needs to change. You can pray all you want, but what matters is action. My sister is tired of hearing how scared she must be to be in her home. I am tired of being scared for what place comes next. 

    We are tired of feeling unsafe. We are tired of thinking thoughts, prayers, and head tilts prevent the fatal shootings happening everywhere. We are tired, and we need action.