Don't say a prayer. Don't light a candle.
Don't post anything on Facebook or Twitter about how horrified you are by the news out of Newtown, Connecticut. Don't go to church tomorrow and listen to the pastor ask for a moment of silence for the dead.
Don't bow your head when you see the flags flying at half-mast. Don't sit on your couch and watch President Obama wipe away a tear from his eye at his press conference.
Don't participate in any of these ritualized expressions of public grief. There have been so many of these already this year.
The point is, they don't help. They don't change the laws of the land, they don't weaken the NRA, they don't frighten the cowardly politicians into action. They change nothing.
Above all, they don't bring back the dead. They won't change the fact that 20 kids below the age of 10 who were alive on Friday, are not alive today. That 26 new families will wake up on Christmas morning this year, feeling the same numbness and heart-shattering grief that so many of their fellow hand-gun victims experience each year.
So, don't shake your heads. Don't tsk-tsk. Don't offer your condolences.
Words only change nothing. If Rosa Parks had tweeted about the indignity of sitting in the back of the bus, her grandkids would still be sitting in the back of the bus. If those thousands of black men and women had lit candles at home instead of braving Bull Connor's dogs and water hoses, we'd still have segregation.
Change comes only when people put their bodies, their physical selves, on the line. Change comes when millions of people do what doesn't come naturally -- when they run toward the fire and not away from it. Change comes when people do the hard, frightening thing.
What we need is not a genteel conversation between like-minded friends. What we need is a movement. What we need is millions of sane, rational Americans standing up to the NRA, standing up to the gun lobby, standing up to say: Enough.
What we need is the recognition that this is a country addicted to violence. What we need is to draw lines, connect the dots, make connections. From drone attacks that kill and maim Afghani civilians -- often children as little as the ones in Connecticut -- to video games that blur the lines between fiction and reality, to these deadly attacks by crazy gunmen that erupt sporadically, this is a country whose culture, whose foreign policy, whose very soul, is being shaped by the gun manufacturers and their lobbyists. No foreign terrorist organization has ever killed as many Americans as the NRA has.
And please. Spare me the tired rhetoric about guns not killing people, people killing people. Cigarettes don't kill people either, unless you smoke them. But they still cause cancer, if you do.
Ditto with the argument that incidents such as the most recent one, are failures of the mental health system. The solution, the gun lobbyists say, is not gun control but to identify people who are ticking time bombs, and treat them.
Here's the thing: Even if our public mental health system was not as underfunded and broken as it is, locating every potentially dangerous person is impossible. The human brain is a finely-tuned, complicated mechanism, and it is impossible to predict when someone may snap.
What is not complicated is making sure that society does not enable them when they do snap by providing easy access to the kind of mass-killing weapons of vast destruction that would've made the Founding Fathers blush.
It makes me furious to even have to address the ridiculous claims and half-arguments that the gun lobby makes. Surely even they don't believe their own words, not in the face of such horrific evidence to the contrary.
So please, don't draw a peace sign. Don't say, "Something good will come out of this."
Twenty children are dead.
The military-industrial complex is alive and well. So is the NRA.
That equation must change.
And by the way, the politicians are wrong. This is exactly the moment to begin this conversation.