“Women Against Feminism” have officially joined the ranks of internet infamy: it’s been parodied by cats. – Alanna Vagianos, Huffington post. That is a line from a wonderful little piece I found here, on the Huffington post. It is really worth a read and a look-see but not the topic for today. The real topic comes from blogger @Ahm76. At the bottom of the fun (and slyly political) cat post, is a collection of tweets from “18 Funny Women You Should Be Following”. She posted this:
Honest question: Is praying for someone in need the same as doing nothing to help while getting high on altruism?
I love this question for a couple reasons: 1) it is pretty darn snarky which is (almost) always a good thing in my book; and 2) it is also a really darn good question.
A lot of people pray. I think everyone can get on board with such a sweeping generalization. One thing I don’t know if people can get on board with is that praying isn’t always worth a whole lot. Woah! Settle down. I’m not discounting that miraculous things have happened, and I’m not saying that prayer has no value. I’m not saying that. What I am saying is that @Ahm76 makes a really good point. If all we ever did was pray, would anything ever get done? The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of God. He was a civil rights leader. I think it’s a safe bet to assume that he probably prayed, a lot. It’s also a fairly well-established fact of history that he also did an awful lot of doing. Mother Theresa is another fairly well-known individual who I’m sure prayed every day, if not many times each day. She is also pretty famous for her doing. Gandhi was another guy like them. Deeply spiritual, Mahatma Gandhi led a movement that resulted in his entire country being granted independence from a foreign power. They all prayed. They prayed a lot too, I’m sure. With all of the troubles and trials they faced in their chosen missions, it’s hard to imagine they didn’t spend more than a few nights, noons, or mornings praying. That isn’t all they did though.
Praying isn’t difficult to do; anyone can do it, at any time, given any situation. In fact, that’s the reason that prayer can be so important and have such value. It might make you feel good because you feel like you’re doing something (that altruistic high, @Ahm76 mentioned), but the reality is that prayer doesn’t trump action. Instead of praying for a cure to cancer, participate in a walk or a run or a fundraiser to help fun cancer research. Instead of praying for the homeless, volunteer at a shelter or just tuck a few dollars into the cups you see on the street (without speculating what they will use it for… their story belongs to them, not your judgment). Instead of praying for something to change, for something to get better… do something about it. Join something. Donate something. Learn something. Make a change in your life to get you moving toward the change you want to see happen. If you think you feel good after saying a prayer, think of how good you’ll feel actually doing something. How will you feel when you see the faces of people who are getting their first meal of the day at the soup kitchen where you are volunteering your time? How would it feel to help a woman start over after fleeing an abusive relationship because you starting working with a local women’s shelter? Now that is a high I can get behind.
On a personal note, Philadelphia has this little thing that happens every year called AIDS Walk Philly. I have walked in the last few years with family and friends, and I’m always wiped out afterwards. It’s not easy walking that far, and it’s daunting to show up remembering how tired I was the year before. Then I remember why it exists, and why I started to do to begin with, and I get my butt out of bed. I look at the quilt displayed at the Art Museum steps, at all of those names and lives and memories stitched into those panels (which are only a small portion of the whole thing), and promise myself that I will come back again next year to honor them.
Some of you might know who the singer Jewel is… or I might be reaching too far back to the 90’s. The folky pop singer wrote a song called “Life Uncommon” which has a particular line in it:
There are plenty of people who pray for peace; But if praying were enough it would have come to be
It’s a call to action; reminding us what is most important. We could all stand to use a reminder to work for a better tomorrow… a better today. Let’s get to the doing.