They are intangible, as intangible as the space that the death of a loved one leaves behind. There is emptiness where there was once-occupied space. The past tense supersedes the present and definitely any aspect of the future tense and verse. Where they are supposed to be — in our homes, in our cars, at our kitchen tables, out to dinner with us, in our arms — there are only memories. Those memories are echoes of yesteryears that will never be swallowed up in victory by the future ones fostered together, because of the unhealthy, incongruous obsession such a country for such a time as this has with the bump stock and barrel — with the potency of the bullet.
It pierces hard and heavy, like a gunshot wound to the eminently crucial and vitally responsible chest of the victim. Our hearts become empty like a heart emptied of its blood meal by the force and work of the gun. Slowly, we inch closer and closer to inevitable demise — the eyes grow dim. The speech is silenced. The brain and neurons are numbed. Hearing is the last to go, and with every second and every minute, all that can be heard are more gunshots. Then, there arrives the coolness in death. Such is how each and every mother, brother, father, uncle, cousin and caring relative feels when a loved one is taken by the gun.
I pray. It is a requirement, in my faith, that we pray incessantly, as the Pauline epistle to the church at Thessalonica exhorts. In it there is power. In it there is change. In it there is faith it will work, has worked and still always works. Yet, for the politician to utilize with pure cliché the sanctity of thinking and communication with one’s deity toward the victim and the equally victimized families of gun violence victims is utter sacrilege.
With the respect that is all due, dear conservative politician wherever and whomever you may be, time is up for your extension of thoughts and prayers as a rudimentary act performed nonchalantly. Surely, you know that faith without works is dead. Thinking it is one thing. Doing it is a necessary consequence to achieve efficacy. For God’s sake and for the sake of our future, do something and do it expediently before your and my church, office, school, grocery store just down the street and neighborhood movie theaters become disconsolate valleys of dry bones that will never achieve solace, like the prophecy of Ezekiel ministers, in becoming flesh and back to life.
So what does this physician think of “my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims?” What should we think? We should think. We should pray. Then, educate, legislate, and, by all means, eradicate the injustices in society that threaten our longevity. These are the actions required for reform.
For yesterday and today, the gun has not yet called your name or the name of your child, your spouse or your friend. Yet, remember, tomorrow is another day.
As we pray, let’s pray and then work those words out together for a better way.
Earl Stewart, Jr. is an internal medicine physician in Atlanta, Georgia, a 2023 Doximity Digital Health Fellow, and a 2023 Climate and Health Equity Fellow (CHEF) with the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health. He can be reached on E.S.J., M.D., LinkedIn, Twitter @EarlStewartJr, and Doximity.
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