Hopelessness Follows Shootings in Vegas

Payton Williams
Voices Editor

In Las Vegas, late at night Oct. 1, the deadliest mass shooting in the history of this country took place.

Another national tragedy has occurred in this country, and I am at a loss for words.

That Monday morning, millions of Americans, myself included, woke up and went through their daily routines of work or school or whatever else only dimly grasping the scope of what had happened the night before.

A few Americans, at the same time, woke to the reality that some of their friends and loved ones were dead.

There are many things that can be said about an event like this, such as news coverage, political messages or numerous other statements to try to make some sense of the event.

But today, I find myself unable to say anything that would make sense of what happened.

The truth is, nothing about it makes any sense.

So, what I’d like to talk about instead is us — and the loss of our empathy.

The most terrifying thing about this event is that it, and events like it, no longer come as a surprise to us.

Shootings like this one have been occurring almost yearly over the past decade.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place in December 2012, claiming 26 people, including 20 children.

Three years later, the San Bernardino Regional Center shooting in December 2015 claimed 14 people’s lives.

Then, six months later, Dylann Roof killed nine people in the racially motivated Charleston church shooting.

In June 2016, 49 people died in the Orlando nightclub shooting.

At the time, the Orlando shooting was the worst in U.S. history; now, only a little more than a year after Orlando, the Las Vegas shooting is labelled the deadliest.

The list of recent deadly mass shootings could take up the rest of this article, and it wouldn’t be worth publishing as the events are still burned into our national memory.

The effects of this constant barrage of heart wrenching images and sickening death tolls is not hard to see.

A person has to do little more than turn on a TV or a computer to see we are becoming numb, and that something of our human spirit dies more and more with each event such as this shooting.

I worry that we are losing all hope in this country. I worry that soon, no event will be able to give us pause anymore.

Most of all, I worry what human life will mean to us in the future if this keeps up.

To look at the pictures of these victims, to look into the eyes of a person who was killed for no reason at all, is the most painful thing a person can do, but perhaps we would do well to do so.

The pain in the image, after all, has a purpose.

It shows us what has been lost, and what is lost is not just a political talking point, or a face on the TV screen put there to support some craven narrative.

What was lost was a human being. At least 59 separate individuals who no longer breathe because a man with a gun stopped seeing them as people.

These people meant something.

Their friends and loved ones mourn for them, an empty space now added to their lives where there once was a person.

I’m sure many people around the country mourned as well, but too few of them were responsible for the coverage surrounding this shooting.

Instead, they immediately searched for a narrative, or a political angle. Fifty-nine people died in this country, and it was business as usual.

So, let’s change the narrative.

There is no sense to be gleaned from this, no story to satisfy our morbid curiosity or our craven political stances.

There are, instead, victims, senselessness, and, most important, mourning. We mourn in this country, and we are angry at the unfathomable senselessness of the loss of human life.

To look at the pictures of the victims, to see the footage of the event, breaks my heart, as I’m sure it does the hearts of many people.

I feel, as many other watching the news must feel, powerless, and I try to look away, or I try to make some kind of sense of it, and I simply can’t.

I am at a loss for words, because I am at a loss for understanding. I can do nothing but mourn, and I expect many other feel the same.

If there is any message to be taken from this, it is that we can’t keep acting like this is business as usual in this country, or it will be.

We can’t continue to treat the people we lose as statistical placeholders or political talking points.

If we allow ourselves to become numb, then there will be nothing left of us that can be called human.

That’s all I can say, because that’s all that can be said.


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