By Kristen Harris
I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe in the freedom to voice your own thoughts online. However, I cannot believe in the idea that tweeting #PrayForVictim is actually making a change.
When I found the #PrayForLondon hashtag, my heart broke. London is the home I’ve never been to. It’s the one place I’ve wanted to live since I was little.
Of course I prayed for the victims. That’s part of what I do as a Christian. However, I didn’t tweet about it. I didn’t need to.
This is not a “I’m better than you because…” thing. This is a “if you were really praying for them, then you wouldn’t have to put it on social media.” I’m sure plenty of those Twitter users did utter real and honest prayers for the victims of the London terror attack, but I’m also sure that plenty more typed 140 characters and turned back to the nightly news.
These, according to the BBC, are the facts: Somebody plowed a car into pedestrians right outside of Parliament. A police officer got stabbed. A member of Parliament tried to save the officer. The officer died anyway. Four other people were killed, and fifty more were injured.
That police officer is not going to come back to life because you tweet about it. Though those injured and their families may find a bit of comfort in your support, it won’t take away from the long road of healing ahead of them. Tomorrow, Twitter will trend about whatever the Kardashians are up to next, but the people of London will still be grieving.
What can we take from this?
Here’s what we can do, friends. We can try to be more like MP Tobias Ellwood. In the moment he saw an officer down, he jumped to give that man mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. According to the BBC, Mr. Ellwood had a brother who died in a terrorist bombing fifteen years ago in Bali. Ellwood was an army officer. Despite police warnings, he saw the injured officer and did everything in his power to save that man.
This is the kind of action we should be taking to counter hate crimes. Not all of us are going to physically save a life, but we can take the same kind of inspired action that Ellwood did.
If a classmate makes a racist joke, stand up against his mistake instead of laughing along. If a friend says something homophobic, remind her that someone else’s life choices are not harming her in anyway. Include people who aren’t in your “group” in class projects. Instead of poking fun at your religious friend, respect his decisions that are different from your own. If you see someone who looks down, just strike up a friendly conversation.
Don’t act out of islamophobia or out of hatred for the terrorists themselves. Rather, act out of love for your country and love for your fellow human being.
The only way to fight hate crimes is to fight back with acts of love. Tweeting into the void isn’t going to solve anything in the long run.
Go ahead, grieve with London. Grieve with London the way we grieved with Paris and Belgium and Aleppo and Orlando. However, don’t let the grief swallow you and risk turning into hate.
Let’s fight back with an outpouring of love instead. Don’t just #PrayForLondon. Show love #InHonorOfLondon.