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Thoughts and Prayers

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It was only yesterday that I was wibbling on to Beth about how every spokesman now trots out the same phrase after anyone has died. What do they say? Come on children, repeat after me:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this difficult time.

It, and variations thereupon, have now become like a mantra. I was reminded of it again after the crash at the Jim Clark Rally today and here's the BBC report:

John Lamont, a local MSP, said his "thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families".

And it's not just in the UK. Put it into Google and you get stories from all around the world: from Korea where variations appear four times on the same page, to the USA with an impressive five times on the same page1.

My problem with all of this is that it is being used so often and has become so well know that it devalues the whole phrase. If I was bereaved and someone said "our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this difficult time" my reaction would be: no they're not, they're just saying what they always say; it no longer sounds like a genuine reaction at all2.

So I think it's time to move on. I think it's time for PR wonks and others who have to make public statements to say what they think, not hide behind packaged phrases, because at the moment you're insulting both the deceased and the bereaved.

  1. I didn't try hard to find these examples, these are on the first page of Google's search results.
  2. I'm also wondering how I'd react if I was a person of faith and discovered that the person who said their prayers were with me subsequently turned out to be an atheist but that's just a side show.

Tags: words Written 31/05/14

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