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Thoughts and prayers are a start to healing

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By Jill McLaughlin

There are some opinions I prefer to stay away from as a reader and these include anything that furthers hateful agendas.

Whenever someone starts something off with “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” for instance, that is disrespectful.

Even before the 2016 elections, many Democratic Party candidates and supporters declared their dislike for the term, “thoughts and prayers.”

Former President Barack Obama referred to Americans who did not support him as “bitter clingers” in 2008.

“They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” he said.

But using this term, “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” has become a rallying cry, repeated over and over on social media and elsewhere by leaders or thousands of everyday keyboard activists.

In my opinion, it is just another way to disrespect your neighbors and entire swaths of the population. It is passive-aggressive trash talk. For me, I think it is also a way for the person writing the phrase to put down Christians as a lower class of people.

For millions of people of all cultural backgrounds, religions and nationalities, sending strangers, neighbors, friends and family members their thoughts and prayers is a comfort, not only for the receiver but also for the giver.

Praying or holding community events where thoughts are shared in a time of crisis can also bring communities together, such as the times when Los Alamos has come together at Ashley Pond Park for candlelight vigils following national tragedies. I have only been here for the past four years and can remember many vigils.

Trinity on the Hill is holding a special Requiem Mass at 5 p.m. Sunday in their chapel at 3900 Trinity Drive to remember the victims of the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio shootings. Priest Christopher Adams said everyone was welcome to attend the Mass. There will be communion, time for a candle lighting, silence and bell ringing.

I hope other local churches and groups take time to remember the victims and come together for healing.

A war of words

Statements from local candidates and leaders following last weekend’s horrific tragedies have varied and many are angry.

Valerie Plame, national figure, former CIA operative, author and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Santa Fe, said in a fundraising email Tuesday: “Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric emboldens white nationalist terrorists, and his administration has actually cut funding for Homeland Security programs to counter violent extremism.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich said: “It is impossible to ignore the impact of President Trump’s reckless and divisive language. This week, we saw firsthand how tragic it is when these disgusting views turn into violence against our communities.”

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) tweeted: “This weekend’s tragedies are too commonplace & we must honor the memory of the victims of both tragedies w/ action, not only thoughts & prayers. Time for the Senate to follow the House’s leadership & pass universal background checks. The safety of our communities depend on it.”

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.): “Our country needs solutions to end gun violence, which the House passed and the Senate must take up. We must stop this hate epidemic. I am appalled that our president has essentially [increased] his rhetoric spewing hate and bigotry all over the place against people of color. It incites anger and people believe that they have a right to go out and kill people.”

Democrat Beto O’Rourke, former El Paso councilman and congressman, presidential candidate: (Tweet to President Trump) “22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism.” “This president’s open racism is an invitation to violence.” Also, “But for the community at large, to have been so regularly attacked and vilified and demonized by this president, for him to have created the conditions that made an attack like this possible and ultimately likely, it’s very insulting to us that he was here.” (El Paso Times, Aug. 7, 2019)

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democratic presidential candidate: “Mr. President, it’s long past time you addressed it for what it is: this is hatred, pure and simple. And it’s being fueled by rhetoric that is so divisive, and it’s causing, causing people to die.”

We all need to take a step back and begin to find ways to respect each other and build bridges.

I agree with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s and President Trump’s statements following the horrific mass shootings this weekend.

“It is too easy for dangerous, violent and mentally ill individuals to obtain an instrument of mass death in this country, and hateful rhetoric can directly lead to destructive and heinous acts,” the governor said in a statement. “In New Mexico, we will be on the front foot, and I look forward to this discussion.”

On Monday morning, President Trump tweeted: “We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain” and called on Republicans and Democrats to come together to pass background checks, potentially combined with immigration reform legislation. In additional comments later Monday, Trump condemned white supremacy and called for stronger action to address mental illness.

Trump has his faults and can also be hateful and harsh with his words. 

Let’s stop the hate.

Let’s look for common ground on issues. I look forward to seeing if this can happen.

Jill McLaughlin is the editor of the Los Alamos Monitor. She can be reached at jill@lamonitor.com.