Within addiction recovery circles the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. In many ways this is the very definition of the insanity of mass shootings in our society these days. A tragic shooting occurs, and the rhetoric focuses on gun control, mental illness, video games, etc. Then another shooting, and it is rinse, repeat and onto the next and the next and the next. It is a nihilistic never-ending story where nothing ever changes.

It is not surprising we feel despair. Add to this a growing sense of the underlying racism and white nationalism spurring many of these shootings. We have political scapegoating of immigrants for society’s ills, kids in cages, and crowds chanting “Send them back.” It appears someone drove ten hours to kill brown people. The very bonds that bind us as a community are seemingly broken beyond repair. Our only commonality the empty and meaningless motto of “Sending our thoughts and prayers.”

Unless we realize we are the thoughts and prayers. We are the thoughts and prayers who have the courage to get off our couches or leave our pews to build bonds across lines of race and nationalism. We are the thoughts and prayers that refuse to allow voices of hate to go unchallenged. We are the thoughts and prayers who believe in the power of the people to hold accountable people in power. And we are the thoughts and prayers that every minute of every day refuses to live in fear and hopelessness but in hope. We are the thoughts and prayers who change the story.

Grace and Peace,
Rev. P. Alex Thornburg