What’s wrong with us?
I’m not talking about Devin Kelley who slaughtered 25 people in a Texas church on Sunday. He’s evil. No one should debate that. I’m referring to the aftermath where we use vile words to attack those who offer sympathy.
More than a few elected leaders made what is now apparently politically incorrect remarks saying their “prayers and thoughts” were with the victims and their families.
That sentiment expressed by House Speaker Paul Ryan in a tweet prompted a number of responses that mirror the contempt the shooter had for others such as this tweet from actor Wil Wheaton, “The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d be alive today you worthless sack of (****).”
Withholding judgment on Wheaton who seems to have no trouble instantly passing judgement not just on Ryan but also those of faith regardless whether they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish et al, let’s explore one little misconception.
There is an erroneous assumption that many seem to have that prayer is about instant gratification or, at the very least, akin to telling Alexa you want to order an 8-roll package of Quilted Northern toilet paper from Amazon Prime and have it on your doorstep in an hour.
Prayer — beyond praising God — is a way of asking for the strength and resolve to determine and do what is right.
In a way, it is much like meditation. You’re collecting your thoughts, searching for encouragement and examples in teachings, and trying to add perspective to trials and tribulations whether they are small or humongous such as Sunday’s act of evil.
Wheaton isn’t the only person of note from actors and journalists to sports commentators who seized on expressions of sympathy after the Sutherland Springs church massacre to launch an all-out Twitter attack on faith.
The foundation teachings of the greatest religions of the world encourage followers to find inner strength to deal with an imperfect world.
And by followers, we’re not talking those worshiping self-proclaimed gods of social media tweeting in 140 characters that retweet posts but those who have devoted a good deal of time and energy and in many cases their lives to what they believe is a greater calling.
Perhaps Wheaton can get a crash course in what it is like engaging in prayer and what it can do to change the world by checking Netflix to see if they have “The Karate Kid.” He can livestream between tweets of telling people that believe in the power of prayer instead of the Star Trek franchise that they are essentially no better than a bag of dung.
“The Karate Kid” is a secular take on seeking balance, doing the right thing, being at peace with one’s self and understanding there is a greater force and a greater goal than self-centeredness. Mr. Miyagi gets Daniel — the victim of bullies who decides to teach himself karate to get revenge — to understand there is more to karate and life than violence.
And before I forget, that bag of dung isn’t worthless. Within it is that bag are substances that will give life to everything from fruit trees to roses in the form of fertilizer.
We cannot live without evil however you perceive it — whether it is heartless acts of man against man or natural killing thousands in a volcanic eruption. Whether it was by chance or design, “live” spelled backwards is “evil”.
Prayer, meditation, and similar vehicles are ways of trying to bring sense to this life.
Whether it was original sin or just the way it was meant to be, there is death, there is evil, there is violence, and there is cruelty in the world. And if you think man is the only species to corner the market on concepts outlined in The Seven Deadly Sins you need to get out in the wild more or at least watch a few episodes of “The Animal Kingdom.”
Perhaps the pious standard bearers of the self-proclaimed world of human virtues known as Hollywood can explain how their perfect world produced apparent monsters like Harry Weinstein and whatever actor/director/producer is being accused of sexual harassment this hour.
There are a lot of common threads between various religions and secular thinkers such as David Thoreau and Ben Franklin. Call it a code for civilization or rules on how to be human.
The people slain Sunday morning as they were worshipping in church pews weren’t doing so to force their will on others or for God to coat them with Teflon against all evil. Prayer is focused squarely on one’s self and how you conduct your life and treat others. It isn’t a panacea nor does it guarantee the person praying will rise to the occasion but it goes a long way in helping them see the right path.
If Wheaton really wants to see how a “deity” can get results, he doesn’t have to look farther than one of the so-called “gods” of Hollywood — Harry Weinstein. Weld power through fear, intimidation, and perhaps ridicule enough and you can get what you want while literally thousands turn their heads and say nothing.
The people inside the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church and people like Paul Ryan chose to worship a god different than the one that was once atop Wheaton’s secular “religion” where the light one strives for is a spotlight along the red carpet at the Academy Awards or Emmy Awards and not the one that helps you see the path to being a better person.