In the time it takes for the next note in a song to ring out, life can go from happiness and enjoying the blessings of life to complete chaos and tragedy. A few weeks back my family was enjoying a wonderful night with friends and food at our friends beach club- when suddenly we hear the scream of our 5 year old daughter. Any parent will be able to tell you that they can hear a scream and know immediately that it’s coming from one of their own. I stood up from the table and scanned the grounds to see a friend of ours carrying our daughter. My wife and I sprung up and ran across the courtyard. I could see my wife get to her first and cradle Olive in her arms. As I got closer I could see a stream of blood running completely down her face. Her clothes were soaked in red. She had been hit in the bridge of her nose with a wooden tennis paddle. My son was still in the court with the other kids looking over the pool of blood. I ran over and grabbed my son and did my best to shelter his view from Olive’s face. It ended up being a late night in the emergency room, stitches from a plastic surgeon, and a lot of tears. It was so frightening to see our child go through something traumatic- and we felt so incredibly lucky that it wasn’t worse, and that we were surrounded by friends that helped and cares so much. This event haunted me for weeks. How fragile life can be. My mind raced thinking about this fragility. The world we live in is hard. We dance through every day breezing by danger and potential life changing events. We have so little control over our safety and stability.
The fragility of our lives is so apparent right now. Another mass shooting, this mass shooting by one man. No motive known as of now. I listen to the news, and read the posts on social media, and hear people speak of this tragedy just dumbfounded by how someone could carry out such a brutal attack on innocent people. People in our own community were killed. A police officer, a special education teacher. There were 6 people from Olive’s school at that concert. I’m not trying to take anything away from the families of anybody that was there, hurt or murdered- I’m just reflecting on how close we all are to these tragedies. It’s not “those people” that are getting killed. It’s us. It could happen to any of us. My wife and I think about this all the time when we are thinking about going on a trip, or going to a concert, a trip to Disney, or even a movie- we are always scanning for exits, trying our best to think ahead on what we would do if some sort of emergency were to happen. We all do our best to not let the fear interfere with our daily lives, but it’s gone beyond that now. We have to live in fear in a way to protect ourselves.
In the case of this most recent shooting in Vegas there wasn’t much that could be done. I hear people saying- “how did he get all those guns up to his hotel room?” How? I’m sure he just walked right in with his luggage. There are no metal detectors in hotels. You could easily fill a rolling suitcase with ammunition and weapons. They don’t take up that much room. Even if it took 10 suitcases- nobody in guest services would even think twice about it. I hear people advocating for strict gun control- but what happens to the 300 million guns that are all ready in the U.S.? What about the homemade weapons that can easily do just as much damage? I’m not saying there shouldn’t be regulations, but I also don’t think that it will change the mind of someone that is planning this sort of tragedy.
I believe that there are a few factors leading to the increase in volume and magnitude of these mass killings; technology / media, population growth, and the division of our beliefs. Us as a county are going through massive growing pains. There are people uncomfortable with where they fit in in, they can pick and choose what they want to fill their minds with from the vast database of information online- and can basically find an argument that falls exactly in line with their beliefs. We are surrounded by people, but many can feel even more isolated due to everyone’s addiction to locking themselves in a bubble of technology- we are around people all the time, but rarely really connecting with anybody. We are seeing a lot more violence daily. We are becoming desensitized. Most of us are strong enough to cope, to live positive lives, and focus on the good. Unfortunately there are people that can’t, that snap, and do horrific things.
We need to watch out for each other. We need to be sharp. We need to watch the people closest to us. We need to take care of loved ones that have mental illnesses. There are a lot of troubled people living in our communities- we need to get to them before they get to us. We don’t need more isolation, we don’t need to draw more lines between us. In the aftermath of such horrific tragedies we need to try not to push for more distance, but to do a head count on the people around us and see if we can’t influence someone on the brink of causing pain and death to rethink where their views are coming from.