A very respected friend asked if I would speak Sunday about the Las Vegas shooting. She wanted me to address three questions: Why does it happen? When will it end? How can I rise above it? I’d like to address these questions here.
Q: Why does it happen?
A: There are a lot of very messed up people on this planet. We like to think that most see the world as we do, that we make mistakes, and we try to correct them. We may have a flawed, even painful history that we work to correct. We’re probably right in thinking that most people are trying to do the same. But most is not all, and it only takes one deranged individual to grab the headlines by committing mass homicide. How many deranged individuals are there in the world? All the numbers and statistics generated by the professionals probably don’t include that person next door that actually ends up pulling that trigger.
Q: When will it end?
A: It won’t. Since the beginning of recorded history, human beings have committed senseless atrocities against other human beings. These things happen and our leaders stand up and declare we must pass laws that guarantee such things will never happen again. Yet, even after all of these countless declarations, we’ve just witnessed the worst mass shooting in recent American history.
Tim McVeigh, in his Oklahoma City bombing, killed 168 innocent people with a fertilizer-based bomb, simply because he hated the U.S. government. If we can appease every beef that every individual has with whoever affected them at some strange point in their life, then we may be able to end the human-on-human atrocities. Personally, I don’t see this happening any time soon.
Q: How can I rise above it?
A: A truly empathetic person will never rise above the shock or the pain of loss that this kind of situation generates. We all think: What if my kid was there? We can’t imagine a concert, intended for pure entertainment, turning into a struggle for survival. We can’t imagine the shock families and friends must experience when they’re given the horrible news that a loved one has just been killed by some self-loathing guy with a death wish. How do you rise above it? You don’t. And you shouldn’t even try. At least not now.
We’ll all put this in perspective. We’ll get on with our lives. And … we’ll all meet that moment when we step from this body. The death of the body is not an end. I don’t think any one of us will condemn the means by which we leave our body. We’ll all be grateful for the adventures we had on this planet. But, relatively speaking, none of us will be here all that long. We won’t stop the killers. But the killers will never stop us.