The latest preventable American tragedy to touch ground on our conflicted shores – this time in Connecticut – has incited the usual maelstrom of fevered public discourse. Also as usual, I am doggedly avoiding entering the fray. So much talking, such incessant commentary, as if we can just talk-talk-talk the horror of it all away. A dirty bandaid over a fresh gaping wound. Thankfully however, it seems that even-tempered logic is prevailing over knee-jerk hysteria this time around, and perhaps some positive societal changes may eke their way out in the end.
I have also consistently noticed amidst this particular Media Aftermath – somewhat inappropriately, I admit – how irksome I find the repeated references to prayer. We send our prayers, so-and-so is praying for them, the community is holding a prayer service, etc etc etc. Of course I understand that this is, in spirit, a positive thing, but I also find it both vaguely oppressive and decidedly exclusive. What about those families who are not of the Christian faith – and certainly Christian-based prayer is what they’re talking about – or moreover, not of any faith at all? And by that I don’t mean hopeless people “without any faith,” but those who are non-theist. Lest we forget, not everyone seeks solace in prayer.
Again, logically I understand there are positive intentions behind these unsolicited spiritual offerings. But I also know that being insistently handed a cocktail or a joint at a party when I don’t want one is, at the very least, unnerving. Actually that usually bugs the shit out of me and I leave. It’s just so fucking presumptuous, in a desperate sort of way.
So I can’t help wondering, where do the non-religious families fit into this tragedy? Where do they go? Do you show up at the prayer services anyway and just try to ignore the mumbo-jumbo part of the program? If someone you don’t even know says how they’re “praying for you,” do you say thanks-but-no-thanks, or just muster a wan smile? It would grow tiresome.
Churchy folk, I’m sure you’re awesome. But if you feel compelled to start churning out prayer vibes like microwaves, remember some folks prefer not to cook their food that way. We can all still eat at the same table, though.