Great Moments in Thoughts and Prayers

When did “doing something” ever help anybody? • Laura Galaviz & Michael Gerber
Art by Rich Sparks

Art by Rich Sparks


he chamber was silent as President Roosevelt spoke. “Yesterday, December 7, 1941,” he said, “a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. Which is why I come before you today, to ask for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
            Congress erupted — but the President stood firm. “No, no,” he said. “Now’s not the time to talk of declaring war. We must remember the victims, the brave soldiers and sailors who died at Pearl Harbor.”
            “But wouldn’t they want us to stop the Japanese most of all?” a congressman yelled.
            “We can’t know what they might want,” FDR said. “All we know is the Japanese have attacked us. The Nazis have taken over most of Europe. And, I wasn’t planning on telling you this, but there’s also a genocide going on. So I ask you, members of Congress, and all good people of this country, to join me right now in thinking really, really hard about how you wish all this stuff would stop."
            The thoughts and prayers worked. Within a week, the entire Japanese High Command had realized the error of its ways, and retreated back to the home islands. But that wasn’t good enough to satisfy Emperor Hirohito, who immediately sacked them all, and threw the top men into prison. “I deserve it,” said Tojo, who later wrote a series of children’s books about bullying.
            Over in Germany, the results were even more marked. From the moment America’s mighty thoughts and prayers were unleashed, Hitler’s Reich began to crumble. Tanks stopped; planes turned back; soldiers tossed their rifles into the river and headed home to be with their parents and sweethearts. All across Mitteleuropa, locks on concentration camps sprung open. Manna fell from heaven. Hitler's heart was transformed; he went on the radio expressing his deep embarrassment, and humbly asking everyone’s forgiveness. Thus the world met the man we now call “the Gandhi of Europe.”
            Thanks to these thoughts and prayers, Americans were credited with saving the world, and Nazis were never heard of again. Especially not in Charlottesville, VA.

•   •   •

As Hurricane Katrina approached the Louisiana coast, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin burst into the Oval Office. "Mr. President, you have to do something! It's a Category Five!"
            President Bush put down his remote and looked thoughtfully out the window, where a fine drizzle fell upon the White House lawn. This was not the first major crisis of his presidency…but instead of jumping to action, as he had been so willing to do after 9/11, Bush pondered now the wisdom of his predecessors. "How about we take a moment to pray?"
            “Sir,” Nagin responded, exasperated, “there's nothing wrong with praying, but time is of the essence. Thousands of people are going to die if we don't do something!"
            "Darn it, would you calm down? When did ‘doing something’ ever help anybody?” Before the mayor could answer, President Bush grabbed his hands; almost immediately Nagin felt a surge of warmth within him. They bowed their heads…and on the television across the room they heard the weatherman report that the storm had suddenly and inexplicably changed course. “I’ve never seen anything like it — Katrina’s actually reversing!” the man said, voice high with disbelief. “It’s heading back where it came, out to sea, where it can never harm anyone ever again!”
            There was still a lot of rain, but the collective love and faith amongst the people strengthened the levees as if from within. When the water receded, New Orleans stood as lush and gleaming as ever. Soon, the residents emerged from their homes. The white residents earnestly and respectfully sought out food and water, always waiting their turn and using only proper channels, while all the black residents looted stores like the dickens, because, well, you know. FEMA Director Mike Brown was given a raise and promotion, for being so proactive in emergency management as to actually make emergency management unnecessary. The whole department was abolished and Brown’s duties were given to a group of clergymen.

•   •   •

America watched in horror as a white man who was definitely not a terrorist, because this was not a terrorist act, because I already told you he's white, murdered nearly 60 of his fellow citizens.
            As the nation cried out for action, wondering just what kind of country America had become, and why nowhere else seems to have to put up with this endless, pointless bloodshed, hundreds of politicians mustered up the courage to do what they knew they must: They headed for Twitter.
            These good, fine public servants with certainly no ties to lobbying groups or gun manufacturers who actually profit from rampages like this one, generated so many thoughts and prayers that Jesus was awoken in Heaven from a dead sleep. "I guess it's time,” he said, putting on his sandals. Descending on a slide made of rainbows, Jesus literally stepped out of heaven and returned to Earth.
            He walked slowly from door to door, and gun owners, stunned into silence, handed over all firearms without question. “Thank you for not politicizing this issue, Mr. Christ,” they said, voices quavering with emotion. “Don’t mention it,” Jesus replied.
            Then Jesus walked to Capitol Hill and addressed Congress. “I came down after I heard all your thoughts and prayers,” He explained. “But I guess I’m a little confused. You guys are constantly passing laws in my name — you know, about abortion and gay marriage and whatnot. So I don't get why you couldn't pass laws about guns? But whatever, I guess I'm here now." Congress applauded and Mike Pence cried.
            Riding his golden palomino “Flash,” his long brown locks blowing in the wind, Jesus threw all America’s guns into a volcano, where they melted down, returning essential elements to the Earth. Trees sprouted spontaneously from the nutrient rich soil. No one was ever shot again. All politicians were spontaneously given Medals of Honor and re-elected.
            The thoughts and prayers answered, Jesus went back to Heaven. He had a little trouble getting back to sleep, but eventually nodded off. ◊     

This piece will appear in The American Bystander #6.   

Laura Galaviz
has appeared in The Rumpus, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Common and Grist.
Laura Galaviz writes all things that aren't poetry. She has appeared in Colorado Review, The Rumpus, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Common and Grist.

Michael Gerber
is, somewhat inevitably, Editor and Publisher of The American Bystander magazine.
Michael Gerber is Editor and Publisher of The American Bystander magazine.
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