A Duty of Faith That Goes Beyond Thoughts and Prayers

In the wake of another mass shooting, searching for a way to bring about change

Posted in , May 25, 2022

Edward Grinnan

Thursday was supposed to be the last day of the school year for students at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. For 19 blameless fourth graders and two brave teachers that day came on Tuesday. It was the tragic but all-too-familiar outcome of another mass killing coming on the heels of the racially-motivated shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, that snuffed out 10 lives in the blink of an eye.

Let that sink in for a moment. 

No wonder there is a backlash against the rote phrase “thoughts and prayers.” Indeed, thoughts and prayers are not enough. Yet they are still necessary. It’s all we can do in the moment. Believe me, those 21 grieving families and their whole shattered community want and need all the prayers they can get. 

But we must do more. Isn’t it past time to have an honest, thoughtful conversation about the sickening level of violence in this country? If guns made us safer then we should be the safest society on earth. In recent years, gun ownership has outpaced the birthrate. And yet the killing continues—in our schools, in our churches and synagogues, on our city streets, in our homes. 

We are not powerless. Guideposts believes hope, faith and prayer changes things. But it must be coupled with action. Our actions. Yours and mine. 

The problem of violence, especially gun violence and mass shootings, is complex and will not yield to simple or short-term solutions. There’s no quick fix. No one is talking about disarming the population or scrapping the Second Amendment. Yet shouldn’t we be asking ourselves hard questions about who should own a gun and what kind of gun? Shouldn’t we be collectively more vigilant about that? Aren’t innocent lives worth at least that much trouble? Or will human life, the lives of children and shoppers and churchgoers, continue to be subjugated to political divisions and acrimony. Will we allow politics to take us all hostage? 

I pray and believe that we can find common ground to address a problem that exists in virtually no other society on earth save ours. I believe that our faith is that common ground, a faith that calls us to live in peace and love with our neighbors. Aspiring to a safer country than we now live in, safe from senseless slaughter, is a duty of faith that goes beyond thoughts and prayers.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School killings that took the lives of 20 children between the ages of six and seven, and six adults in 2012 struck close to Guideposts, both geographically and in our hearts. Some of our Danbury staffers had children in that very school district and one former employee lost a daughter in the shooting.

Our thoughts and hearts and prayers surely do go out to the people of Uvalde who have a long road to recovery ahead of them. And those prayers will continue. There is no easy answer. But one thing I do know: violence begins in the human heart, and it ends there too.

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