Exactly! Very well written Sam — thoughts are vital, wonderful and necessary. (prayers not so much, at least not to me) Thoughts, indeed, are the process, the means, not the end, I love how you formulated that concept.
Back to the phrase “thoughts and prayers”, it is an empty phrase, it’s a throw-away line, by itself. It is an abandoned pile of ingredients. It is less than the sum of the parts, unless you put in the effort to make something of them.
There are so many similar empty phrases, “our hearts go out to them”, I absolutely hate that one, it is worse than “thoughts and prayers”, it is an admission that our response to a particular tragedy is absurd meaningless hand-wringing & procrastination.
This leads to a whole new line of thought — I inherently dislike recycled phrases & clichés, I prefer to “roll my own”, or tweak and modify old tired wording, at least that demonstrates that I am actually thinking, not just claiming to think, that I’m investing effort to come up with some new & original way to frame a problem. (it’s also why I write social commentary & political poems on Medium)
But of course, creative writing & wordsmithing still doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility for action. Thanks for reminding us of this!