Popular Q&A Wednesday

Is sending “love & light” useless after tragedy? (Q&A)

“Love & Light” and “thoughts & prayers” have been thrown around a lot recently. After the shooting in Las Vegas and the awful natural disasters that have struck all over the world recently, we’ve heard a lot of opinions about how best to help.

When it comes to contributing to relief efforts, it’s pretty unanimous that donating money is the best way to go, and I generally agree. But what about when sending money isn’t an option? Does sending “love and light” or “thoughts and prayers” really helpful?

Here’s my $.02 on the subject…


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    October 11, 2017 at 7:25 am

    What I find more annoying is everything is rallying round for Las Vegas (rightly so, i’m not taking away from that) – yet countries that have less news reporters and less internet/social media sharing opportunities seem to be forgotten about. Sierra Leone had a major mudslide recently which killed hundreds. The bodies were literally being piled up outside the hospital because there’s no support, no money, no help and do you hear about that all over the media? Does it make a big appearance on the news? No. It’s not even just with this – it’s the whole world in general. The unfairness of it is just infuriating. People are being shot dead in Syria constantly – but does anyone really take note of that? Yes, the shooting was horrible and devastating but why do American’s lives (or any more developed country) seem to matter more than those in poorer countries?

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      Erin Motz

      October 11, 2017 at 10:12 am

      I 100% agree with you. The inequity of the news coverage is jaw-dropping when we see how much happens outside the walls of our country and the countries we’re taught to care about. And really just to play devil’s advocate, I’d also ask: is it possible to cover every single bad event that happens in every country? And if we did, is it possible to fix or solve them ALL ourselves? And I ask this bc I struggle with the same feelings… I DO care about the awful things happening around the world, but there’s so many of them that I think I get numb. So being affected enough that I’d move to action doesn’t always happen. That sounds absolutely horrific to say, but I think a lot of people feel that way. Awful things 1, 2, and 3 happen in your back yard. You cope & then help if you can. Then awful things 4, 5, and 6 happen 1,000 miles away and you’re so wrapped up in your own awful thing that you just kind of hope those other problems have people closer who can mobilize and help.

      I don’t know what the “right” answer is for helping the world, but just thinking out loud and also (maybe?) putting a mic on a common opinion out there.

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        October 12, 2017 at 9:53 am

        This response is so good to read. It has been coming up a lot in my life since the Orlando shooting (I live in Orlando) and the Vegas shooting (Vegas is the closet city to my hometown) occurred. Everyone in Orlando didn’t say anything at work about the Vegas shooting, not a peep. Everyone in my hometown posted nothing about the Orlando shooting when it happened. The incidents are 2000 miles away from each other! I am simply in a position where I know people directly affected by both incidents and while I was emotionally affected by both incidents, I didn’t feel the need to bash people in either place for not being affected. Why would they be? They do not know anyone personally in those places! It is sad but I think it is more sad to be mad at someone for not being sad that you’re sad. :/

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          October 13, 2017 at 8:43 am

          I have to say I’m annoyed at your comment. It’s not about “being sad that your sad” and I dont think that there was anything bashing at all… I’m in the UK and even over here there’s constant news about the Vegas shooting and how to donate money and help but you rarely get that for poorer countries and all the more severe issues going on. Erin’s response was really good and good at showing a different point of view. I don’t feel you’ve contributed in any way other than to be another person that sweeps things under the rug and makes excuses. Good job.

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        October 13, 2017 at 8:47 am

        You made some very good points Erin and I can totally see where you’re coming from. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I guess frustration (& anger) over the inequalities and seemingly indifference of people can shadow the fact (as you said) people do care, but feel limited on what they can do or how to care about so much at once. X

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    Laurie Drogowski

    October 11, 2017 at 7:36 am

    Erin, I totally agree with everything you said! It was totally spot on! I believe you literally took the words right out of my mouth!!
    I love your website!!
    My thoughts and prayers are with all the people and their families in Vegas, to heal fully (mind and body)!! Thoughts and prayers are also with all the families in P.R., Texas and Florida! It seems as if TX and FL have been forgotten, which I hope isn’t the case as they ALL deserve are help!
    Have a wonderful day.

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      Erin Motz

      October 11, 2017 at 10:02 am

      thank you for the kind words, laurie!! <3

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    Melanie Gibson

    October 11, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Thank you so much for this, Erin. I’m one of those who can’t even send the $5 that you speak of, but I do sincerely hope and pray that people in need get help and that any money that is sent does not go through a corporation that takes a big chunk of it for itself first. I’ve always felt sort of guilty for not sending a donation to any aid efforts until now.

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      Erin Motz

      October 11, 2017 at 10:01 am

      so glad this perspective was helpful, melanie! also feel the same way about big orgs with high salary execs :/

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    October 11, 2017 at 8:43 am

    “Just don’t be a jerk!” So well put! Thank you for yet another great post!

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    October 11, 2017 at 8:47 am

    I totally agree with everything you said, Erin! I think a lot of the frustration with the insincere sentiments has to do with people like politicians saying it after the tragedy. They’re nice sentiments, but the politicians are the ones who could ACTUALLY do something about this! Especially when it comes to gun control – it’s so frustrating for these mass shootings to keep occurring in the US and the response from them is always just “thoughts and prayers” and never any actual move towards passing legislation to prevent this in the future. That’s what bugs me the most about seeing “thoughts and prayers” after tragedies, but I do think it’s nice to hear it from people who mean well and aren’t in positions to physically help as much.
    Thank you for this Q&A, it was great! 🙂

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      Erin Motz

      October 11, 2017 at 9:59 am

      that’s an important distinction to make as well– totally agree with you

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    Christin Slyngman

    October 11, 2017 at 10:34 am

    I liked what you said about sincerity. At the end of the day, I believe it’s about where your heart is. Are you saying the words and/or giving money out of sincere love and a desire to help? Or is there a different motive? I don’t think it matters whether you give a prayer or a million dollars…if you are not sincere in your intentions and responding in love, you may as well not respond at all. I’d take a sincere prayer over a donation just for show any day! 🙂
    BTW, thank you for acknowledging these tragedies…I actually had a friend who was one of the 59 killed in Vegas, so it sits very close to home.

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      Erin Motz

      October 12, 2017 at 3:24 am

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Christin. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this as well <3

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    October 11, 2017 at 11:09 am

    I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. I think now more than ever we need to be careful about how our message sounds to the recipient. Not because we need to be paranoid, but because so many hateful things are swirling about these days in the media. And when you really do care about someone, you take time to make sure that your true message is heard, don’t you? I think you’re right that people bristled at the “thoughts and prayers” phrase because it was delivered by people not perceived to be religious or spiritual. And sadly, the people who are truly on their knees and are crying out in prayer and anguish probably aren’t posting on social media about it. I appreciate your voice in this world, Erin.

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      Erin Motz

      October 12, 2017 at 3:25 am

      “the people who are truly on their knees and are crying out in prayer and anguish probably aren’t posting on social media about it.” EXACTLY! thank you for weighing in on this!

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    October 11, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I think you are so cool find things you write about so real and interesting thanks for always keeping it real . Kathy

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    lynne moore

    October 11, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    While I am not religious in “thoughts & prayers” way, I do consider my self connected to my religion in a spiritual and cultural way. When someone sends a religious message to me, I accept it as their way to to connect with me. And that is appreciated.

    If that is what they have to give, It is not my place to turn my nose up on it. It’s a gift and I can be gracious in accepting a gift even if it is not something I can use myself. It may comfort them while they process if they can do more.

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      Erin Motz

      October 12, 2017 at 3:26 am

      so well said. i think that’s a great perspective to have

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    Allison Schentrup

    October 11, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Hey Erin, I totally agree with you. I think its lovely when people pray or send love, if only there was more love flowing across this world, it would certainly be a better place. However, I think there was a of something missing in your argument. The backlash we’re seeing on the internet is prayer being substituted for action. Some of it is towards the politicians who have the power to do something about these tragedies but instead are “sending thoughts and prayers”. That is totally unacceptable and I think deserving of anger. And I absolutely believe prayer is enough when a person literally doesn’t have a dollar to spare, but maybe that person can take 2 minutes to make a phone call to their local politician about their stance on lessening gun violence or increasing mental health services? There are action steps we all could be taking after these kinds of incidents that I think if were in conjunction with a lot of energetic healing light being sent would make a huge impact and lead to real change. It can’t be just about money or prayer. There has to be something else we can do in addition or with sending those things. Thanks for the video and making the space to talk about this.

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      Erin Motz

      October 12, 2017 at 3:27 am

      that’s a great point– you’re totally right!

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    October 11, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Erin, I totally agree with your view and also with Anon’s view…the news hypes some things and leaves other’s barely mentioned…the world at this moment seems so out of control (along with the pres. of the u.s.) that it’s hard to believe we’ll last much longer…but then, we’ve been watching the Vietnam series on PBS and the world was pretty horrific then too and we’re all still here and still just living our lives. I’m kind of rambling but I’m just so very frustrated with how nothing seems to change in this world…there’s no REAL progress in race relations, greed, monetary inequity, corruption, power mongering or any of the other things that cause war’s and mass shootings…

    Sorry to be such a downer…guess i’ll go play my violin…at least i can bring some joy (or laughter) to my little corner of the world.

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      Erin Motz

      October 12, 2017 at 3:31 am

      i totally understand you bc i think the same things sometimes! though i do think even though it seems we’ve gone backwards in some areas, we’ve definitely made progress in others. it’s tough to see in times like this, but the beams of light are there if we really look 😉 <3

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    October 19, 2017 at 3:03 am

    There have been so many tragedies lately being that of mother nature with the hurricanes, massive flood from those storms with loss of life & then there is the turmoil literally all over the world daily that when you watch the news it’s like a horror story. I do what I can for donations to help & prayers do help, so I think it’s a combination of both from both sides & there shouldn’t be any conflict about who did what & who could or couldn’t give or shoulda given. It’s a shoulda, woulda, coulda turmoil that we all struggle with every day & there is no rhyme or reason as to why LV happened, Paris happened, numerous other incidents not even mentioning the acts of mother nature. Nothing we have control over except how we chose to respond & it should be with love, kindness, prayers & if able donations no matter how small everything counts. You are right on about all this Erin as always, your voice is the voice of many of your followers. God Bless us all.

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