The ultimate copout

You’ve probably heard Prime Minister Morrison offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ to those affected by the bushfires that continue to burn in parts of Australia, or the ongoing drought, or perhaps the bombings that occurred in Sri Lanka last Easter.

Morrison isn’t the only ‘world leader’ that follows the ‘thoughts and prayers’ mantra. US President Trump is also a believer (pun intended). As reported in a San Francisco online newsletter, Trump offered ‘thoughts and prayers’ for those shot at YouTube headquarters last April, however they make the comment
Offering “thoughts and prayers” has been a common response among public officials to mass shootings in recent years. Trump offered “thoughts and prayers” after a Kentucky school shooting in January in which two children died. In February, he tweeted “prayers and condolences” to the 17 people killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Gun-control proponents have made the phrase an issue, saying it disguises officials’ failure to take measures to limit mass shootings. After the Florida shooting, a student at Stoneman Douglas High tweeted, “Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won’t fix this.”
Trump’s thoughts and prayers are more a copout than sincere; he has offered them on at least one occasion to the wrong city! Morrison’s motives are equally questionable.

While Morrison is entitled to believe that prayers will help in some way, shape or form, there is never a certain way to measure their effectiveness over other control measures such as funding people and equipment to fight the larger and more aggressive fires science tells us are a product of climate change. If a bushfire stops 5 metres from someone’s front door, was it due to the number or nature of prayers, the work of firefighters or a wind change? The last two can be measured. Conversely, if the neighbour’s house burns to the ground, is the claim made that there were not sufficient quality or quantity of prayers completed on the neighbour’s behalf? A Melbourne academic who lost her house in bushfires some years ago recently penned a piece for The Conversation suggesting Morrison’s thoughts and prayers are not enough. The article has been widely republished not only in Australia but across the South Pacific. Self-proclaimed ‘fake news’ website The Big Smoke published a piece suggesting ‘only 11,568 more thoughts and prayers needed to stop bushfires’ suggesting everyone should assist in making up the deficit.

Morrison’s glib statements are made to give the impression of his sincerity. However if Mr Smith who has just lost all his family photos, or Mrs Jones loses her collection of books, neither of which can be recovered by an insurance payout, really thinks that Morrison gives either of them an individual thought or prayer in their time of need, I’m sorry but the reality is that he probably doesn’t know they exist.

The thing is that Trump, Morrison and the other ‘leaders’ that offer ‘thoughts and prayers’ can do so much more. Trump could tighten gun laws. Howard managed to do it — and get re-elected. Morrison could think about the advice on the effects of the changing climate from the experts, such as the 11,000 scientists who declared early in November that the world is entering a climate emergency and confirming we are going through the planet’s 6th mass extinction. The 5th mass extinction event saw the loss of the dinosaurs.

Instead Morrison threatens legislation to prevent environmental groups placing what he claims are secondary boycotts on suppliers to companies operating coal mines and makes speeches with content described as ‘ludicrous’ to the United Nations claiming Australia is going to meet our inadequate emissions reduction targets.

Morrison has a position within Australian society that enables him to turn his self-declared thoughts on the horrific nature of the latest natural disaster into practical help to the affected as well as working to ensure that next time we as a society are prepared to a greater level to deal with the problem as it occurs. It’s telling when Mayors of drought and bushfire affected communities demonstrate more authentic leadership than any federal government minister.

Certainly some affected by drought, bushfires and the inevitable floods and cyclones this summer will find comfort in the claim that the Prime Minister claims he is praying for them. Australia also has professionals in providing spiritual support to those that require it. They are the clergy, ministers, imams, rabbis and so on in the various faith groups that have representation in Australia. Maybe Morrison should be thinking how to support the families and businesses that have been affected by the ongoing drought and bushfire disasters and leave the spiritual comfort to those who have the professional experience.

There is no doubt Morrison should have thought about meeting with the 23 professional fire and emergency services leaders earlier this year. They might have some insight into the tools and equipment required to manage numerous catastrophic bushfires at one time and how to get help where it is needed quickly. It was their job to manage that in their respective professional lives. Morrison should have listened to their opinion in April, not November.

It would be far more practical if Morrison gave some thought to ensuring that all Australians were in receipt of sufficient funding on a weekly basis to live on. That way, those that can’t afford to feed their family, those who can’t afford medical treatment, those who can’t afford to put a roof over their heads wouldn’t have to rely on religious and charity groups to fund activities that really should be the responsibility of the government. If Morrison’s LNP Government did its job and funded members of our society to be able to live and eventually be productive in our society, the charities and religious groups currently making up the shortfall could amass funds to assist to a greater level when there is an extraordinary event.

Morrison’s thoughts and prayers clearly mean nothing as he is in a position do something about mitigating the immediate and ongoing effects of a natural disaster and does nothing meaningful except bobbing up on the nightly news at bushfire command centres or out ‘in the field’ taking resources away from their real roles. He is also in the position where he can implement plans to mitigate the potential future effects of a similar disaster, again demonstrably he is failing to do so.

So the thoughts and prayers are platitudes to people that are suffering and nothing more than a cynical attempt at marketing; in other words — the ultimate copout.

What do you think?

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Tony Harris


Thoughts and prayers are a waste of time. Practical action is required.

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Do take a look at the new Featured Video in which you will see Sky News' 'Kenny Report'. This is what those concerned about climate change have to suffer. Climate denial, accusations of 'fake news', anti-science, dangerous lies. 

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