The horror in Las Vegas
When I first heard about the shooting in Las Vegas, my reaction was muted—“Another shooting”, I sadly thought. But then, on the way home from work, I listened to first-person accounts of the shooting. As I heard a man describe what happened, I had a sinking feeling in my gut. This event was even worse than I imagined. Joyful concert goers, listening to the music they love, thought they heard fireworks—until they realized that a fusillade of bullets was raining down on their bodies. No more needs to be said. Most of us have either seen or heard this disturbing news.
It’s been challenging for me to cope with the aftereffects of recent natural disasters—hurricanes and earthquakes. I can easily imagine the suffering of people losing their homes, their belongings, and their livelihoods. While I feel somewhat powerless to help those people, I can at least make donations to charitable organizations that can provide some relief.
But what happened in Las Vegas is an unnatural disaster. And I know that thousands of people in Las Vegas are reeling from this unnatural act. Families of the deceased are in shock, injured individuals are in pain, family members are relieved that the injured are alive, and the community feels as if it has been hit by a tsunami.
To be sure, everyone in Las Vegas is impacted. Indeed, all of us are in pain. We are trying to understand something that is incomprehensible. Why would someone do such an awful thing? Will we ever really know what was in his head? If we did, would it help us?
How do we understand these senseless acts of violence? How do we explain them to our children? How can we protect ourselves and our families? How do we process our feelings of fear, sadness, anger, and helplessness?
What can we do?
Talk about your feelings.
I know, it’s painful for me to talk about it too. But keeping these feelings inside just make them fester. Share your thoughts and feelings with friends and family. Encourage your children to talk about their reactions—listen and empathize. Children tend to personalize these sensational events. Remind them that they are still extremely rare and unlikely.
Acknowledge your fears.
Security and safety is a fundamental need for all of us. We want and need to feel a sense of safety both at home and in our communities. We want the world to be predictable. But this kind of event threatens our feeling of security. It puts us on edge in a way that we don’t want to be accustomed to.
Life has a degree of unpredictability that we must accept. We don’t have control over others or the natural world. But we also don’t want this to interfere with our willingness to do things that are important to us, that give us meaning, and enjoyment—travel, attending sporting events or public gatherings or doing things that we want to do. Fear can make us overestimate the likelihood of personal danger.
Do we need such easy access to guns?
I know that it is not guns that kill people—it’s the people that pull the trigger. But do we really need access to automatic weapons, silencers, and weapons of mass destruction? Why is it so easy for someone to walk into public places with an arsenal? Doesn’t easy access make it easier for some people to act on their unnatural impulses?
Live a life of goodness.
We have to learn to live with our fears and find meaning in our lives. Helping others, being an asset to our community, and spreading goodwill and kindness are concrete positive actions. These actions bring goodness into our world. This is something that is in our control.