Secularism for a better future

It’s 6am. I’ve been up more hours than I’ve been asleep, partly because my daughter, who is 6-months old today, wants to nurse every two hours (it’s like she’s growing or something), partly because my mind is on a small town in Florida, where I know other parents are not sleeping tonight, and partly because I know that some of my friends – other new moms – are also losing sleep this week, worrying about the world they brought their babies into, and whatever it is we’re supposed to do to make it right for them.

She’s asleep between us. I roll over, silently admit that I’m addicted to my phone, and scroll through my Facebook feed. Amid the posts, most lamenting our country’s ineptitude about gun violence, I spot a re-post by one of my mom-friends. It’s an image of a post-it, scrawled with a handwritten note:

thoughts & prayers
policy & change

My mom-friend and I have a lot in common, and a lot not in common. Our religious beliefs are quite different. Regardless, I love her. And her post, to me, represents something else that I think we can probably agree on: our society, and our government, needs secularism.

Apple Dictionary helps me out here:

secularism | ˈsekyələˌrizəm | noun
the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions: he believes that secularism means no discrimination against anybody in the name of religion.

secular | ˈsekyələr | adjective
1. denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis

Policy & Change is something that we the people can accomplish through our government in order to make our society a safer and more inclusive place for all, including those that believe in a higher power and those that do not – all faiths, and none. While individuals may find Thoughts & Prayers to be personally comforting, even essential in these times, calling for prayer in the face of issues that require changes in policy distracts us from the task at hand: making the world better for all of our kids.

I believe that our government can and should strive to be secular insofar as it should not establish religion or favor religious beliefs over policies and practices that protect the health, well-being, and personal dignity of every person.

So, I charge our politicians to be mindful about when and how they choose to say things like “our thoughts and prayers”, because these are not what your constituents need from you in your role as a public servant. Falling to this now hollow phrase undermines the establishment of secularism in our government. We need your actions and your cooperation to create a safer society by enacting common sense gun control laws and universal medical care, so that we can move on from these dark days of gun violence, mass shootings and overdose epidemics.

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