What Happens in Vegas
This past Sunday evening saw – once again – a deadly shooting on United States soil in Las Vegas. This shooting, which claimed the lives of 59 people and wounded 527 more – so far – is being heralded as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
In the wake of such a devastating tragedy, a move to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, takes shape. As of Wednesday, all that has been gleaned so far is that the act was carried out by 64-year-old Stephen Paddock. From his 32nd floor hotel room of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Paddock began to rain down bullets on goers of the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival around 10 p.m. As law enforcement learned of Paddock’s location and began to close in, he took his own life.
This is all of what is known for sure.
No motive. Shock and awe from those closest to him. Seemingly no reason this generally law-abiding citizen – up to this point in his life – carried out such a rampage.
It naturally makes sense to look for answers in these situations. However, sometimes those answers never come. Aurora, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Charleston, Orlando, Vegas – and the list goes on – are points in history to look back on and ask, “Why?”
As far as clear answers are concerned, we may never know.
What we do know, however, is that the heart of all human beings is inherently flawed. Every individual contains within themselves the capability to carry out rampages, like the one on display Sunday night.
So, why do we not? What stops us from coming into the fullness of our depravity? Is it a sense of belonging, community or family involvement, divine intervention? Perhaps each aspect plays its role.
Why is there domestic abuse, mothers drowning their babies in the bathtub, children pushing “weaker” kids down on the playground or leaders with over-inflated egos playing God in the White House? To be perfectly clear, they have all done that in some capacity.
At the deepest root of all these examples is one common aspect, a wicked heart.
It is easy to look at each of these instances of violence and deceive yourself into thinking you are incapable of the same destruction. Hearts and minds need to change toward our fellow humans. Only then will we perhaps see any true end to this violence.
Until then, we will eventually see another act of mass violence and terror in the months and years to come.
The lasting ramifications of what happened in Vegas – akin to gambling debt – won’t stay in Vegas. Let us just be sure that a lesson is learned from this tragedy.