Next to, "I'm on my way to help," the best thing to say to a suffering person or a city full of them is, "I'm praying for you."
"I'm thinking of you" doesn't quite cut it. Because: If I'm wandering around looking for my dog in unstable rubble, who cares whether you are thinking of me or not?
Alas, it's disingenuous for the agnostic and the atheistic to say, "I'm praying for you." We don't want to insult the injured by lying to them. But we want to offer them something (without offering them money).
So it's becoming common to say in personal correspondence that we're "sending good thoughts to you in the hospital" and openly on Facebook that we're "sending good thoughts to Oklahoma City."
How does one go about doing that, exactly? Do you actually construct good thoughts in your head—I think Oklahomans are strong people, and they will get through this—and then point your probiscus in the general direction of Oklahoma and nod, a la I Dream of Jeanie?
And if you believe sufficiently in magic to think you can send "good thoughts" to Boston one month and Oklahoma the next, well then why don't you just say a fuckin' prayer?
Oh, "it's just an expression," you say?
Yeah, well that's sort of what it sounds like.
Insert smiley fuckface here
I’m sending positive thoughts your way that you’ll become less curmudgeonly. 😉
I’d pray for it, but I don’t really want you to change that badly. And, if a deity actually exists, I don’t really want to waste her time on the trivial.
Tim H says
OK. If something bad happens to you I just won’t bother sending you any attempt at support. I’ll just let you deal with it. If that’s what you want your friends to do, go with it.
David Murray says
Well, Tim, here’s what I tell people I know who are in trouble who I don’t know how to help:
I repeatedly tell them to let me know how I can help, and in the meantime, I send them things that I think will entertain them.
Like, to my friend Mark Weber, who has had cancer for several years and has become something of a connoisseur of well-wishes, I sent a link to this post, because I was pretty sure it would either make him laugh, or cause him to rebuke me in a more thoughtful way than you have done.
In doing so, I let him know not only that I was thinking of him in general, but I was thinking about him specifically.
Better, to my refined taste, than posting on his Facebook page that I’m “sending good thoughts.”