There seems to be a growing backlash against positive thinking and telling people in distress “you’re in my thoughts and prayers.” Apparently, some people prefer that you join the fray of negativity and would like you to shove your good intentions where the sun don’t shine.
Recently I was reading a thread of comments on Facebook regarding one of the latest tragic mass gun shootings. Well intentioned folk were posting messages like “my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families” and “praying for everyone affected by this senseless tragedy.” Not exactly the wrong thing to say, right? I mean these were people from all across the world who weren’t there in the thick of things. These were just kind people who, despite not knowing anyone directly affected by the tragedy, wanted to express their sympathy and show compassion.
Well, based on some of the responses they got from other people, you’d think these well-meaning people had said something horrific. Responses ranged from “we don’t need your good thoughts and prayers, we need action,” to “oh great, more people keeping the victims in their thoughts and prayers, that’ll really help.”
This harsh type of response kept up, with more people joining the fray, lashing out at good people, whose only objective was to express their love and support. Is that ever a bad thing?
This got me to googling and to my surprise, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one aghast at the hostile responses to “good thoughts and prayers” and I share this piece from The Washington Post:
In the wake of tragedy, we are accustomed to hearing calls for “thoughts and prayers.” We have heard them from prominent political figures, both Democrats and Republicans. But more recently, such calls have drawn harsh criticism from the left.
In response to the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Tex., Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) responded: “Thoughts and prayers are not enough, GOP.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) bluntly told Republican leaders that their prayers weren’t needed: “We have pastors, priests and rabbis to offer thoughts and prayers.” Perhaps the most striking tweet came from Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who wrote, “They were praying when it happened. They don’t need our prayers. They need us to address gun violence and pass sensible legislation.”
What does it mean when a political leader says that the nation’s “thoughts and prayers” are with those who are in sorrow and grief? It could mean nothing. Or even worse than nothing, the words could be evasive and misleading, covering political irresponsibility or conveying no more than empty sentiment. “Thoughts and prayers” could be a quick way of moving on without meaning to do anything.
Or it could be an expression of what is called “civil religion,” the common spiritual language of the American people. Robert Bellah, a sociologist at the University of California at Berkeley, famously argued that “every nation and every people come to some form of religious self-understanding whether the critics like it or not.” Some critics clearly do not like it. Nevertheless, expressions of civil religion are necessary for a president of the United States — any president — who must lead the nation as mourner in chief.
Read full story here.
One difference here though, is that the people offering to keep the victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers weren’t politicians — they were just regular folk who wanted to show support. They’re just average people, who, reeling from another senseless tragedy, wanted to convey that they cared. These descent people felt something and wanted to say “we’ve never met and I wasn’t there, but I’m here for you as best I can” — that “here for you” sentiment was expressed in “we’re keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.”
Would it have been better if they went on a rant and raged like some people in the comment thread were doing? Would it have been better if they got political and raised the level of discourse? Of course not — there was enough of that already.
There has been a growing backlash against positive thinking and people wanting to think good thoughts for others. A segment of the population is so angry…so enraged, that they turn their viciousness on people who simply want to offer up some words of comfort.
I can’t speak for the perpetually angry, but I do know that an increasing number of people are like attack dogs waiting to pounce. They rage and wallow and when a kind hearted person happens along who tries to offer some semblance of healing, bam! they pounce on them and turn their rage on that unsuspecting kind stranger.
When someone experiences something bad, the reaction of most people is to try and help them. That support may come in many ways, but when a person is only able to help in the form of words of encouragement, that should be accepted as a blessing. Too many people don’t care about very much these days, so when we have people saying “keeping you in my thoughts and prayers,” we should be grateful — it may not solve the problem, but, it sure doesn’t make it worse either. In fact, those positive vibes, whether immediately evident or not, do create a healing power — if more people generated that positivity, it would make the world a much more bearable place.
And on that note…
When we do say “keeping you in my thoughts and prayers,” we should actually do so. To say it and then not do it, is wrong. And on that note, I am keeping all of our readers in my thoughts and prayers…and yes, I really mean it.