Growing out of elementary school does not mean you grow out of elementary habits. Adults can be crazy and selfish people, and we occasionally take pride in ridiculing others. It can feel good to make others feel bad about what typically makes them feel good (even if it makes them feel good because they make others feel bad).
With every publicized shooting comes a flurry of often-repeated tweets. Some call for gun control. Some call for culture control. Some offer thoughts and prayers…
Some ridicule those who tweet their demands for gun control into the server-sphere. Some ridicule those who defend the right to own and bear arms. Lately, many people have ridiculed those who offer “thoughts and prayers” in these trying times – often suggesting that thoughts and prayers do not result in progress. It is understandable to shame those who tweet, “thoughts & prayers,” and then go on snapping photos of their Ahi Tuna Supreme Salad, but it is a shame to ridicule “thoughts and prayers” themselves. Here’s why:
Every action stems from an intention. If you think about eating a sandwich you may very well make a sandwich and eat it and if you want to make lifelong friends in college you may join a fraternity.
Not every intention turns into action, and not every action brings about the desired intention. Viagra was meant to be a heart medication, but a more desirable use was found for the drug. Fraternity men initially seek friendship and camaraderie, but are eventually required to take part in a curriculum of checklists to prove to the world that they are better than everyone else.
Still, the value of thoughts and prayers is that they imply that someone is taking time to set intentions and to frame their way of thinking around living or acting in a certain way. You may drive on the road and never notice that Jeep Wrangler owners wave to one another, but take a ride in a Wrangler and you will actively notice every other Wrangler on the road and whether or not the other driver offers the “Jeep Wave,” a kind of salute for. . . I don’t know. . . buying the same style of vehicle?
What I mean to say is that setting intentions frames the things you notice throughout your day. Praying to cure an illness may not present an immediate solution, but consistent thought and prayer toward that end may result in you taking notice of an article you would otherwise ignore. The concept of prayer, speaking to a God who may or may not be listening to what your saying, is valuable even in the case that you are merely talking to yourself before bed or dinner.
Whether you are religious or not, taking time in your day to set intentions or reflect upon your feelings and actions holds value. It may come in the form of journaling or taking an hour a week to study the internet to find solutions to the problems at the top of your mind. More importantly, thinking and praying about things which are important to you may help you uncover which of your actions are inhibiting your progress.
For example, at the start of 2018 I thought I would spend this year focusing more on my health, wealth and friendships. Those are wide-ranging topics (wealth includes a wealth of knowledge, for example). I began saying a quick prayer before bed (rituals are comforting) and would then repeat those three intentions before falling asleep. However; when my travel season picked up in June I started to skip my little ritual.
A domino-effect kicked in. Forgetting to exercise while on the road carried into my home life – as did eating out, forgetting to call my parents, and procrastinating on developing my career. In the final weeks of August I recalled what I had promised to do at the start of the year and set an intention one night to creep back on track – and I have gotten back into the habits and rituals I set out to do at the start of 2018.
So, do not dismiss thoughts and prayers – they are essential to action. Perhaps you do not believe that someone’s thoughts or prayers are resulting in effective solutions, and that makes sense, but why tarnish the value of thinking, journaling, meditating or praying for yourself? The way you speak influences the way in which you act, and not everyone is interested or willing to debate with strangers all of the time.
Maybe your thoughts or prayers will result in a solution no one had previously thought to suggest.
I’ll dedicate this post to Brother Manly, who is a great friend, was a great roommate, and remains an inspiring human. Additionally he is an advantageous Call of Duty co-op partner, though I was better at Mario Kart. Also I am fairly certain he misses his Wrangler and the friendly waves from strangers on the road.