I am sickened!
On Monday morning, I woke up at 2:30am. The dog was crying, she wanted to be let outside to do what dogs do at 2:30 in the morning when everyone should be sleeping. As I stumbled towards her crate, I grabbed by cell phone to check the time. That is when I saw it…
Multiple alerts telling me about Las Vegas.
As Gretchen did her thing outside, I stood there next to the sliding glass door in our darkened kitchen reading the reports on my phone. Alone in the dark, in my underwear, I could see my body illuminated in the soft reflection on the glass. The vulnerability I saw in my reflection was how I felt as I scrolled through the news reports.
How could this have happened?
Who would do such a thing?
At the time, the reports were indicating a total of twenty deaths with hundreds injured. I knew that the death toll would be rising. I felt the same pit in my stomach that I have now felt multiple times. I felt it on 9/11, I felt it at Dallas, I felt it at Charlie Hebdo, I felt it at San Bernardino… now, I was feeling it again.
We have been given reports about Antifa protesters sparking violence… was this it? Was it a religiously inspired attack? Was this North Korea launching an asymmetric warfare strategy? Were narco traffickers fighting it out and these poor people got caught in the crossfire?
I was looking for a rationale explanation. Somebody (or… as I figured at the time, a group of people) did this to achieve a specific calculated objective.
As I returned to bed, Sandy woke up and could sense something was wrong.
“What’s going on?”
“Attack in Las Vegas. The details are sketchy, but it looks like there are a number of fatalities.”
She turned on her light and as I got into bed and we started scrolling through the news feeds on my phone.
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We try to make sense of the unimaginable. We searched for some type of meaning and motive of the madman. Sometimes mercifully, it exists and we can take solace in the fact that as we move through the universe, even the most perverse among us are moved by rational goals.
When those goals are present, we can identify the threat before it strikes. If we miss the indicators, we can chastise ourselves then take swift and cataclysmic retribution against the aggressors. There is a sense of moral justice that comes with converting our rage to “extreme violence of action”.
When no apparent motive exists, we feel hopeless. Our universe becomes unpredictable. We are at the mercy of the fates, and we have no idea when our individual chords will be cut.
As of this writing, there is no established motive on the part of the shooter. Isis has issued a statement suggesting that the shooter was radicalized, but absent proof at this point they may simply be taking credit for something they had no part in.
What we do know is that whatever caused that man to open fire on a group of innocents created a manifestation of pure evil… and the ultimate in arrogance.
He thought to himself, that he was justified in ending the lives of potentially hundreds of people for his own benefit. He may have known that his was a suicide mission, but that does not alter the fundamental arrogance of his actions.
Those people did not choose to die… he made that choice for them.
Even in the darkest of moments, there are however glimmers of light. The image of first responders identifying where the gun fire was coming from and running towards the Mandalay Bay hotel with pistols drawn. Pistols! In the face of automatic gunfire, with nothing else they could do, these guardians were prepared to bring war upon the shooter with the only tools they had.
Strangers covering injured strangers with their own bodies. Citizens, turning into first responders and hurriedly moving the immobile out of harms way while at the same time exposing themselves to the deadly rain of bullets that the shooter was hailing down upon them.
And my favorite, an act of abject defiance. The image of a sole individual standing up erect in a sea of humanity that had laid down on the ground. This unidentified man wearing a tank top and shorts facing the hotel and raising his hand towards the shooter… and flipping him off. Then to top it off scowling at the window with his finger still raised, and taking a swig on his beer.
There will be investigations.
The motives of the shooter may… hopefully… come to light. If he was in fact an operative of a larger organization the forces of America will bring hell upon those that aided and abetted him.
We will analyze our tactics, our procedures, we will make ourselves more hardened more secure, but we will never give up that which gives us our greatest strength: A fundamental belief in the value of life and our precocious freedom that allows each of us to flourish.
We will prevail… for perseverance is the foundation of our national character.
Please say a prayer for those that fell at the hands of the madman. Please hold close those poor families that are dealing with the pain of the instant loss of their loved ones.
Please, stay safe and vigilant.