Rev Jim Wallis writes in Sojourners today: I often send a note offering "thoughts and prayers" to people in the wake of personal loss or tragedies,And I mean it. It was natural and sincere for many to offer their "thoughts and prayers" to the high school students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas after they lost 17 friends, teachers, and coaches in a tragic mass shooting with an AR-15. And I was immediately struck by the response by many of those students, even those of deep faith, who said thoughts and prayers were no longer enough.
I believe in the power of prayer, but as the apostle James tells us, "Faith without works is dead." Therefore, it is time to think about the connections between thoughts, prayers, and actions in relationship to gun violence.
The students who survived the now-dubbed "Valentine's Day Massacre" were all born after the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, which marked the beginning of the modern era of mass shootings in schools. A recent Washington Post analysis estimates that since then more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools in the United States have experienced a school shooting on campus. Therefore, these horrific, heartbreaking, and family-destroying moments have become normal for this generation of young people. Some of their first memories at 4 and 5 years old were participating in active shooter drills, akin to the nuclear drills of my generation. As they got older, at 9, 10, and 11, it was not unusual for many of these students to fearfully ask their parents if they might get shot in school.
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