[The following is my very personal reaction to the tragic massacre of innocent people in Las Vegas. I refuse to use the term “lone wolf” because it is a political attempt a delicacy which his victims did not receive. I stand with the peope of Las Vegas, the families of the victims, and those fighting for their lives in the hospitals. In this time of darkness I refuse to acknolwedge the name the shooter. Comments for this post have been disabled.]
I saw a headline that chilled me to the bone when I woke this morning. Less than 16 months after Orlando was rattled by the Pulse Nightclub Shooting, nearly sixty lives taken and several hundred more battling injury after a someone open fired on a country music concert from a hotel window. I’m infuriated because this shouldn’t have happened again, but it did. Another safe haven destroyed by a selfish, heartless individual1. Las Vegas, I love you and you deserved better.
My first long layover was two years after I started flying.
He checked into a hotel with his personal aresenal with the explicit intention to harm others. He may have needed help, but instead of seeking it out, he elected to ruin the lives of hundreds of innocent people. Yet, as the news outlets gather the facts, they are trying to humanize him and downplay the fact that death toll from his behavior supercedes both that of the Pulse Nightclub shooting and the Boston Marathon Bombing. What do they all have in common? They were people peacefully assembling with a mutual interest. Even with the most advanced planning logistics, things like this still happen, but why?
Violation of Safe Places
Much like the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Pulse Nightclub Shooting, and an increasing number of events involving people peacefully gathering for fun, this happened at a concert in Las Vegas. People go to these events to enjoy a common interest whether it’s music, a sporting event, or a long overdue vacation. The excitement of sharing a common interest, reveling in moments together, and celebrating life is why people come together for these events. Venturing to such large scale events should always be a safe experience for all2.
When I was a flight attendant, I had a handful of long layovers in Sin City. Although my visits were few and far between, I always managed to have a quite fun, somewhat responsible, and incredible safe travel experience. I enjoyed walking The Strip with my crew mates, visiting all the iconic landmarks and peeking into the major hotels. We made a point to people watch and explore the most famous casinos in the world. My flight schedule often kept me from enjoying the nightlife Vegas has to offer, but even with a short ten hour layover, I always managed to squeeze in quality time with my crew.
My favorite layover was my very first one because I was able to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen since high school who now called Nevada home. When I saw the news at 5AM this morning, I immediately went to Facebook to see if they had checked in. With the new safety feature, I felt like I was reliving the wake of Pulse all over again. I couldnt hit refresh quick enough, and waiting to make sure those I knew were safe. With the news ticker in the background, I grew impatient hitting the refresh button. I haven’t been able to turn on the television news or listen to the in depth coverage on the radio because for me, Pulse is still fresh in my mind.
It is times like this, I wish I still flew because I want so badly to hop a plane of my day off and go help some how. The thing about these sort of events is that I am reminded not only how fragile life is, but also how many wonderful people are out in the world. In the wake of devastating hurricanes, resources are spred thin, but the kindness continually flows on. I simply wish it would be enough to spurn change. How can we make the world safer? How can we make it kinder proactively and not as a knee-jerk response in the aftermath? I want to believe that it is possible, and that my voice will be heard. I need to see that my actions can help make this world better.
Additional Reading & Ranting
What makes me angry about this, is that this isn’t the first time I’ve felt compelled to write about non-nerdy, current events. Throughout the last five years, there have been different incidents which have impacted different aspects of my life. I don’t list these to promote myself, but provide further perspective on how one tragedy is, too much. Rereading them, I’m infuriated because I shouldn’t be writing another one of these, but ignoring them would only serve to sabotage the purpose of them. I present them to you as part of a discussion on a much overdue dialogue that our country seems to keep avoiding. Yes, they indirectly address evil in its modern incarnations3.
- Boston – My story about what happened while I was abroad, and my friends thought I was at the Boston Marathon. (2013)
- Military Escort – Freedom isn’t free. How my crew and I handled our first fallen soldier transport. (2014)
- MH370 – My feelings about working in aviation during the highjacking disappearance of Malaysia Air #370 (2014)
- Orlando – How fandom and the community came together after the Pulse Nightclub Attack (2016)
Las Vegas, I will see you soon. I don’t know how or when, but when I do I want to experience as much as I can. However, now is not the time to work on a bucket list or a film marathon homage to Sin City. Search for ways to help from donating blood, volunteering time or resources, or locate reputable funds which directly benefit those affected by this tragedy. It’s easy to send thoughts and prayers, but in the wake of such tragedies tangible resources are needed. Every little bit helps, so please consider seeking them out.
- I would have preferred to use the term “domestic terrorist,” but it seems that it can only be applied if the individual question is influenced by an entity outside of the United States for political or religious means. (Source: NPR)
- More importantly, schools like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Virginia Tech should never have happened. Schools should be the ultimate safe haven for children in which education is only a part of their learning.
- Although indirectly referenced, I have not discussed the implact and ripple effect of 9/11 on these events. If I were to write about it, I don’t think I would be able to stop.