Another week. Another mass shooter playing God armed with multiple AR-15-style assault rifles.
We have lost fifty nine lives in Las Vegas, chosen at random from a pool of individuals whose only mistake was standing two steps too far to the left or right. They were people like you and I, trying to inject a little fun into their lives by attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Perhaps victim number 7 was celebrating his recent engagement. Number 14 was hoping to numb the pain of losing her toy poodle Maggie. Number 25 had only come because their best friend needed a wingman. Number 47 just really loved country music.
All that remains now is broken hearts, memories and confusion. Why did this act of senseless terror happen? What made Stephen Paddock commit such a heinous crime against humanity? Many people have written articles in search for these answers but this isn’t one of them.
I’m here to tell you what I wish I’d heard after the first biggest mass shooting in US history I can remember, and the dozens that came after it. There’s a way to channel your grief into something productive. You can do more than pray for Las Vegas.
That’s not to say prayer isn’t effective if it’s a part of your belief system. But what truly matters is carrying that prayer in your heart. Don’t just wish life hadn’t ended for those fifty innocent bystanders. Honour them by showing up every day and being your best self.
After you get up tomorrow let the warm smell of your morning coffee envelop your entire body. Smile at yourself in the mirror instead of searching for flaws. Greet your coworkers with that same smile and really listen when they answer your usual halfhearted “how are you?”. Call a loved one after you get home and remind them how much they mean to you – you never know how much they might need to hear it right now. Accept their help with that trivial thing you could probably do yourself.
Repay kindness with kindness. Repay unkindness with kindness, too. Don’t use others to get ahead. Treat everyone you meet as an equal and show them who you really are. Don’t discriminate based on race, sexuality or any other arbitrary characteristics. Be tolerant. Fight hard for your dreams and do everyone a favour by fulfilling your true potential, instead of silently letting life pass you by.
In short, by all means pray for Las Vegas. My heart truly goes out to all those affected by the tragedy and I wish there was more I could do to help. But let’s make sure it doesn’t end there. The world loves you implicitly, much like the love we all feel for those we lost in the Las Vegas attack. This is the one chance you’ve got to love the world back…
PS: Following the tragedy Matt Bevin, the Governor of Kentucky, tweeted: “To all those political opportunists who are seizing on the tragedy in Las Vegas to call for more gun regs… You can’t regulate evil…” But as Jelani Cobb aptly put it that’s precisely the purpose of a law – to regulate evil. If you agree, this petition might interest you.