Mass shootings in the United States have become so commonplace — as has the lack of meaningful response to the epidemic of gun violence — that “thoughts and prayers” have become more of a joke than a solemn response to tragedy.
Joining many in the conclusion that thoughts and prayers are a woefully inadequate response to the violent world we inhabit is the Dalai Lama, according to CNN.
Just days before the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida that saw 17 lives abruptly ended on February 14, 2018, the Dalai Lama tweeted: "Although I am a Buddhist monk, I am skeptical that prayers alone will achieve world peace. We need instead to be enthusiastic and self-confident in taking action."
He has been joined by other religious leaders in condemning prayer without action, including Pope Francis, who said in 2013: "Prayer that doesn't lead to concrete action toward our brothers is a fruitless and incomplete prayer. Prayer and action must always be profoundly united."
The notion of sending thoughts and prayers after yet another round of gun violence and death has received increasing criticism, particularly in recent years.
CNN noted that the term has reached “full semantic satiation,” which “is the phenomenon in which a word or phrase is repeated so often it loses its meaning,” often to the point of ridiculousness.
The term now trends regularly on social media in the wake of mass shootings, as well as natural disasters, but not in earnest — the phrase is deployed to blast politicians and others who have done little to nothing more than offer sentiments as the country suffers preventable tragedies.
As CNN concluded: “When even religious leaders appear to be questioning the real value of #ThoughtsAndPrayers, it can be hard to place your faith in it.”