I wrote this short reflection on the night that the shooting in Las Vegas occurred – I decided to defer its publication until now for various reasons all of which are sensible.
As I write this late at night in Brisbane, we currently know very little about why 50 people lie dead and more than 200 injured on the Las Vegas Strip.
We know that Stephen Paddock, a 64 year old man, decided to park himself on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and start shooting people at the Route 91 Harvest country music concert.
We might know why in a few hours, or we might not.
Many of us will rage at the futile waste of life. We will ask questions like “why did this happen?” and we’ll try blame someone for it. There will be more talk about guns, and I’m sure fingers will be pointed.
Over the next hours, days, words like “thoughts and prayers” will float around. For some, the phrase is simply an indication of sympathy. For others, it’s something to say out of obligation, but largely comes from a distressed state of helplessness and loss.
Many will want to fight someone, and they’ll be angry – that’s probably understandable.
But you cannot fight hatred with more hatred.
You cannot brighten darkness with more intense darkness.
And you cannot defeat death by bringing more death.
This news cycle will end, and those of us further away will lose our horror of the situation quickly – another will replace it soon enough. For those closer, the horror will remain with them much longer.
But what then?
If you are asking why this happened, and what can be done – then look to yourself. And look to those around you. What fills their lives, what drives them? What books do you read, what news do you consume, and what stories do you tell?
Will your next conversation build someone up and help them along, or will it not? Will people leave your presence feeling energised, empowered, thoughtful and inspired? Will you bring peace to people, or will you bring stress, fear and anxiety?
Every moment. Every hour. Every day.
These are our opportunities to change the world.
We are not powerless. And if we won’t do it, then who will?