Las Vegas: Finding resilience to hate in the face of tragedy
SAN DIEGO, October 3, 2017 ⏤ On a Sunday evening in Las Vegas, country
music enthusiasts were enjoying an outdoor concert when the sounds of repetitive gunfire replaced revelry with tragedy.
From a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, 64-year old Stephen Paddock opened fire with what has been described as automatic weapons.
Fifty-nine people were killed and over 500 wounded, during what has now been described as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Rumors started to fly, as many quickly ascribed this horrific incident to terrorist, racial or political motives.
An investigation to determine why a 64-year old accountant with no prior violent history would gun down hundreds of innocent people, then commit suicide, is underway.
Paddock’s brother, Eric Paddock, said “We’re still just completely befuddled. Dumbstruck. A retired accountant. A wealthy guy. He liked to play video poker. He went on cruises.”
Some things we know:
- Paddock, a former private pilot, had not updated his FAA license since 2008, and it is speculated that he could not qualify based on his medical certification.
- Several guns, reportedly 10, were discovered in his Mandalay Bay hotel room.
- When they searched his home, police found that Paddock had been buying guns from
around the area and accumulated a small personal arsenal.
Tragedy demands answers as victims search for the meaning of behind this unthinkable act. It is difficult to explain the reason why someone seeming so completely normal would accumulate an arsenal, apparently legally, and rain death down on so many.
Though this tragedy will take time to better understand, we may never have answers. Those who survive will learn whether they are able to heal physically and emotionally from this trauma.
The entire country must do the same.
Las Vegas is a favorite U.S. and international adult playland, replete with casinos, entertainment, food and glamour. It offers a sense of freedom, inviting guests to leave worries behind while walking the “strip” and enjoying the bright lights and excitement.
Not only Las Vegas, but America has been affected in ways great and small by the actions of one sick man. We are one people; the tragedy which directly hit hundreds has affected us all.
David Letterman was quoted on Twitter:
Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was NOT a “lone wolf”, he was NOT “mentally ill”, he was a TERRORIST. End white privilege today.
— David Letternan (@DavidLetternan) October 2, 2017
Letterman’s statement is irresponsible. It is important to not seek blame based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation or age. If Paddock was motivated by hatred of Trump or Republicans, he’s not a representative of liberals. If he was Muslim, he doesn’t represent Islam. He is not a representative of white privilege, millionaires, or guys whose dad’s were bank robbers.
He is a representative of hatred gone unchecked. The Boston Marathon bombing was hatred gone unchecked. Sandy Hook was hatred gone unchecked.
After the Boston Bombings, President Obama characterized the attacks as “two brothers and a crock pot.’’ It was not Islamist privilege or even terrorism. The Tsarnaev brothers alone were responsible for their actions, regardless of who urged them on.
By Obama’s seventh year in office, he had made 15 speeches after 15 similarly senseless tragedies: Boston, Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub, San Bernadino, Roseburg Community College, Chattanooga recruiting center, Charleston Emanuel AME Church, the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, the DC Navy Yard, the Aurora Colorado movie theater, Fort Hood I and II, Gabby Gifford, the Kansas Jewish Community Center shootings and the Kalamazoo Uber driver shootings.
Obama could no more stop these tragedies than President Bush could have stopped those planes from hitting the Twin Towers.
It is critical for America to move away from the aftermath of hatred and violence that fills our mainstream and social media. The screaming and hate over statues, the hate gone unchecked that led to a death in Charlottesville, was so much sound and fury that ultimately means nothing.
It didn’t come from people seriously outraged over Civil War monuments. It was just haters looking for an excuse to hate.
The shooting in Las Vegas is hatred gone unchecked. We have to condemn the hate that turns Americans into enemies of Americans and justifies politically motivated violence.
Did Paddock own a MAGA cap? Or was he inspired by James Hodgkinson, the man who shot Representative Steve Scalise? Was he out to kill white Republicans at a country music concert?
Social media has responded to Letterman’s tweet:
Yup! David Letterman tweeted about ending “white privilege.” Interestingly, he has never tweeted about “ending Islam” after an attack. ?
— Publius (@valeriuspublico) October 3, 2017
A “top legal executive” at CBS, Hayley Geftman-Gold, felt she had the right to say:
The Constitution guarantees her free speech, but her irresponsible speech that foments hate and violence got her fired. CBS issued a statement saying Geftman-Gold’s comments were “deeply inappropriate” and that she has been terminated.
Geftman-Gold, as so many liberals are wont to do, forgets that President Obama had the House and the Senate and was unable to stop lobbyist influence on Southern Democrat officials to enact meaningful gun control.
In June 2016, PowerLineBlog.com reported in “Democrats Block Sensible Gun Proposals in Senate,” though this particular bill would not have stopped Paddock from legally obtaining weapons:
“This afternoon, the Senate voted on four proposals for increased gun control, two submitted by Republicans and two by Democrats. All four went down to defeat, although both Republican bills had majority support.
“Senator Chuck Grassley proposed legislation that would have increased funding for the NICS background check system, and would have pressed states to send more records to the FBI on felons and others barred from buying guns. It also revamped language that prohibits some people with mental health problems from buying guns. Grassley’s bill had majority support, 53-47, but wasn’t passed because the Democrats filibustered it.”
This is not a White privilege problem any more than the Black-on-Black shootings and murders in Chicago are representative of the entire black population. We are a country unable to come to terms with the rampaging and murderous and how to stop them.
For if not a gun, then a truck filled with fertilizer as in Oklahoma or two guys with a pressure cooker, as in Boston.
What we need to do is take a giant step forward toward recovery and resilience.
According to PsycheCentral, resilience is “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress. … It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences.”
Developing resilience with inspiration from leadership has the potential to bring us together in unity, resolution, and purpose.
The U.S. Department of State believes that resilience is entirely possible for those who choose to practice some of the following suggested methods which could be helpful:
- Maintain a sense of perspective.
- Recognize you have a choice in how you handle challenges.
- Accept change.
- Anticipate challenges.
- Learn how to calm yourself.
- Overcome your fear.
- Let go of your anger.
- Take action.
Recovery takes time to accomplish because trauma creates a mental and neurological imprint which can be reversed over time. Taking constructive action towards resilience could include seeking medical assistance, counseling, support groups, practicing meditation, reading self-help books, listening to motivational podcasts, seeking solitude and quiet, journaling and praying.
Being patient with recovery, including our family and friends, is also important.
What happened in Vegas will some day be recalled as a horrific incident, but not as a reflection on anyone but Paddock.
Tragedy reminds us that America’s freedoms are for the greater good, and not merely for an individual or a select group.
National resilience is entirely possible to achieve as easily as the individual is willing to give up the “I” in favor of the “we”-coming together in one unified American voice.
All of us at LifeCycles wish to convey our sincerest sympathy for those who lost family and friends during the tragic Las Vegas shooting.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!