Shut up and pray

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We call upon the bonds that unite us— our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity. Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence, and though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today, and always will. Forever.

— President Donald J. Trump

Regardless of whether or not you support President Trump (or even believe that his words on Monday were sincere) we hope that the majority of Americans will embrace the message— and not just when it comes to our response in the wake of violent tragedies.

We also applaud the repeated references to “God” and “prayer” in Trump’s brief message, and encourage our readers— regardless of political or religious affiliation— to make some kind of commitment to remember the words of the president’s short speech when they become angry, sad or emotionally invested in whatever issue or event will dominate the 24/7 news cycle next.

There are many who are suspicious of Trump’s sudden professions of faith, and believe they were utilized for nothing more than political convenience, and they may be right.

But even if they are, we can’t help but embrace the idea of stopping to pray, reflect and embrace unity at those times when we have instead grown accustomed— as a society— to reacting with anger and outrage to events that occur all too frequently in our world. (Even those who feel that placing faith in a divine Creator is childish would have to admit that it is, at least, as valuable as putting your faith in a political system that is so obviously broken.)

There was a time when American politics was actually a tool used by leaders to produce solutions to very real problems confronting this nation. In the information era, however, the problems themselves have become the tools that are manipulated by politicians for nothing more than a desired political gain, and not necessarily one that benefits our society.

That would probably be alright if these problems were manipulated to simply attract votes, but in a day and age when information—and misinformation— is so readily available on so many different platforms, tragedies like the one that occurred on Sunday are invariably used to enflame a political base and ensure that base will not move towards a solution that requires any compromise whatsoever.

Anything said on a political level in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy like the one that took place this week is deliberately counter-productive. President Trump got that right. The same will be true the next time a Black Lives Matter rally turns into a violent riot that leaves death and destruction in its wake, and President Trump could very well get that one wrong.

But what matters is that we, as Americans, rally around the message he conveyed on Monday morning, and learn that silence and reflection is the best way to combat the fundamental flaw in our system that has been revealed and  exploited by those who are truly willing to gamble our country’s future on a partisan agenda today.

Far too often we mistake outrage and tears for compassion, when the most compassionate thing we can do is simply shut up and listen.

We’ve officially reached that point.

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