Las Vegas. Mandalay Bay. A crowd of people gathered to experience the sounds of music under a starry, magical sky. What better way to spend a vacation than with relatives and loved ones. It would be a celebration of beer, dancing and selfie images as the band played their tunes on stage. Yeah. That didn’t happen. Instead of crowds shouting back the songs coming from on-stage, this country artist was distraught to hear blood-curdling screams suddenly piercing through the happiness that waved around the sea of people. A patron recalled hearing the distant, repetitive sounds of bullet fire emerging from the dark ether. In flight mode, people’s hair on their skin raised straight, breaths deepened and fear enveloped every soul in attendance that night.
After 10 minutes of blind chaos from gunfire above, the crowd regained their sanity… somewhat. Some hysterically ran to safety and others stayed to help others injured. It was a ghastly night for dozens of families and it will be a deep gash on the American consciousness for decades to come. By the time this blog is posted, America will still be befuddled by the reasons why this horrific event took place. Who was this man? Why did this happen? Why are we continuing to see mass shooting after mass shooting? Why isn’t our government doing something about this? It is truly heartbreaking to feel as if we’re stuck in some sick, repetitive horror story in a Twilight Zone episode.
Mass shootings is a layered, complex phenomenon that America is haunted by. These incidents and the way we respond is a declaration on how we function as a society; it’s an indication of what we value. It exposes the ugliness and cantankerous business of politics that grinds human progress to a slow crawl. We have achieved so much in technology, medicine, transportation and science yet we can’t seem to advance our humanity. What have we become? Or is it us being exactly how we always been succumbing to the base natures of power and self-interest. Has it always been there? Have we been this way since we first started to walk upright?
Mass shootings says many things about us. It speaks of our mental health. We know its there but we ignore it. It’s like a faint putrid odor festering in the dark corners of our community. It flares up until it becomes a burning itch. We breathe a sigh of relief as we scratch this uncomfortable sensation until it bleeds. Mass shootings speaks of the salivating greed of the elected. They boast and grandstand for the wounded. The opposing side mechanically communicates scripted words that cunningly abate the screams of help from the afflicted masses. Mass shootings speaks of our fondness of violence in all expressive forms. It’s in our movies, our video games, our TV shows, our comedy, our conversations with friends, our bars, our food, our ways of disciplining our children, our sports, our business, our sex, and the methods we practice against our environment. It is embedded in the cultural DNA of this nation. Mass shootings speak volumes of our maturity. When will we constructively deal with the unnecessary deaths of innocent lives? As young adults, we are expected to cast aside childish behavior. However, as adults, here, in America, we live our lives recklessly. We shout our citizen’s calling card to all those who challenge our actions: This is America! It’s a free country! I can do what I want!
If we are to deal with our gun violence effectively, it will have to be done in a multitude of ways. We will have to be mature enough to know there will be some things we can no longer do. It will have to be done legislatively and socially. Gun laws will have to be drafted for background investigations of all individuals in all states, we will need gun registration and/or possible limitations in weapons ownership, etc. Also, another way to root out gun violence is restructuring our educational system. As we know, education teaches us a curriculum that will ultimately lead us to be contributing, tax-paying citizens. Yet, it also plays another vital role: Conditioning. The romanticized half-truths, lies and misinformation shape how we view our selves and the world around us. We need to set American history right. World history will need to be revamped from the times of King Tutankhamen til the present day.
In conclusion, in order to change America, we have to change ourselves. It’s the only way out of this madness. We have to be willing to recognize our flaws and be mature enough to know that our social responsibility holds more weight than the individual need. We have to stop. Pause. We have to think about our own thoughtless inaction that continues to threaten the livelihood of our fellow brother. So tell me, what’s important to you? The healthy life of your community or a society where those very lives can be snatched away at any minute from one semi-automatic weapon? You decide.
Written by Nova Phoenix