October 2, 2017 – Is This How It Ends? Reflections On Las Vegas.
Forgive me for stepping outside my usual role of posting news of the past and reminding you of what you may have missed. The events that are unfolding in Las Vegas; the deadly mass killing of concertgoers to the last night of a Country Music Festival, are disturbing and horrifying beyond belief. That, as of this posting, some 58 people are dead and over 500 are wounded speaks to a sudden numbness that has overtaken most of us. The numbness that we have seen too many of these in recent years, that there is no precedent and that this is what we have become goes beyond any dire prediction, any imagined scenario, any display of shock and horror over what has become a sad fact of life.
Many years ago, seemingly in another life, I was a concert reviewer and a music fan. I went to hundreds of concerts, attended countless festivals, spent untold hours at nightclubs; never once imagining life could end in a sudden hail of bullets at any one of these.
Music, no matter what kind or what genre, performed in a public setting has been sacred ground. It is the place that brings together and unifies people – all colors, all kinds, all values. It was a gathering place and Music was the glue which held us all together. We could have our differences – some would get emotional – some would pick fights, mostly out of one kind of chemical enhancement or another. But the bottom line; we were all there and for that few hours we were one large family – dysfunctional in places, but family nonetheless.
We were all there for the music – it was the spirit of that music which brought us joy and hope; filled us with possibilities and took us away from our day-to-day lives. And for that 3 hours we were okay – and life was okay – and we could breathe.
But that has been violated lately – regardless of the issues or the edicts or the assumptions, a place of peace and solace has been taken away. And last night in Las Vegas; one more time, one more senseless act. One more day of despair.
And now we have to ask ourselves; is this where it all ends? Do we go to a concert one night and not come back? Can we no longer get together with people and celebrate without fear of it being the very last thing we do?
And the hang-wringing starts – the fingers of blame and the outbursts of anger. Lone Wolf, Terrorist, Mentally deranged – all types, all easy figures to accuse. The guns; the access- the laws – the Amendments – the right or wrongs. All the issues come into play for however long it takes before the outrage dies down. The fundamental issue remains the same – our moral center has fallen, broken in a million pieces and it can’t be put back together again. We have to face the fact that we are a violent, fearful society – violence and acts of terror are the basis for the majority of films we watch. Fear of unforeseen death by way of medical conditions is another – fear of dying in a car accident without the proper insurance – fear of walking down the street.
And to some, the violence in our media is inconsequential – buildings blow up and no one seems to die. The enemy is gunned down with exquisite precision and no one wonders for a second who those faceless casualties were. We are all enveloped in make-believe and an assumption it’s someone else’s issue, not ours.
We now see violence and the horror unfolding in real-time, in real-life and we have become numb to it. We call for answers and solutions, as if the simple act of saying so makes it so.
We need to look at who we are as people – as humans – as, for want of a better term, spiritual beings. We are supposed to be better than all this. And we stare with vacancy at the images as the story unfolds in Las Vegas, hearing of one more mass shooting – each new one worse than the last – we are encased in numb and inured in helpless. And we wonder if this is how it’s all going to end.
I would like to not think that way. But occasionally, the cynic is winning.
Enough out of me.