Self Expression Magazine

Las Vegas: Bright Lights/Harsh Realities

Posted on the 02 October 2017 by Laurken @stoicjello

See this face?


It’s that of  64-year-old Stephen Paddock.     Twenty-four hours ago, one could look at his photo and think him to be a typical,  middle-aged American male.    Enough receding  gray hair, enough wrinkles to prove he’s lived a life,  but what kind of life?     Because one day later, his has become the latest face of murder, mayhem and domestic terror.

As as it stands, with the mass shooting in the streets of Las Vegas still so fresh in the global psyche,  Stephen Paddock is a complete enigma.    His look-alike brother, who lives in Florida, claims to be as surprised as anyone  that his brother-turned-sniper, shot hundreds of people from the 32nd floor of a corner room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

Was Paddock just another sick psychopath? Obviously, yes, but we don’t yet know the motivations that prompted his illness , whether diagnosed or not, to force him to act. He had a criminal father, but friends say he was just a regular guy.

Outwardly, anyway

As I type, 59 people have died, 515 wounded.     But in situations like this, sadly, those numbers are always fluid.    They’ll change and we’ll wince collectively when we hear the news.

ISIS is being opportunistic.  This group of religious miscreants are claiming Paddock had been radicalized months ago.   Maybe, but I don’t think so.   If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it, but I think this is the handiwork of a crazed man, perhaps angry and full of rage at something that is ephemeral,  hell-bent on killing himself and taking as many people out with him.    But what made Paddock pack four  or more automatic rifeless and endless rounds of ammo into bags and check into the hotel this past Thursday?

These aren’t the actions of someone who merely snapped and if he snapped,  he planned his response to it meticulously .    There was a method  to his madness.   The hotel was strategic as was the suite he checked into.  It over looked the outside venue.     He probably looked out his hotel room windows countless times,  calculating his moves, practicing the positions he’d take.  His stance.   Probably knowing fell well how it would end.    He had time.  He took his time.   This was the scariest kind of killer—-one with patience,

Last night would have culminated the three-day country music festival.   It would have been the biggest night with 22-thousand people, listening, dancing, singing to music, 32 floors beneath his vantage  point.    I hate to be hackneyed, but it was like “shooting fish in a barrel”.

Man is an interesting animal.    In a forest fire, all the creatures living in that ecosphere, run out of it, away from it when there’s danger;  humans run towards it. .    And not just the blessed and brave first responders,  such as fire, police, EMT’s…not even  former or current military.    Last night, there were regular people who ripped off their own clothing to create  tourniquets, to stop plug bullet wounds,,or to cover your xxthe faces of the dead.    Countless people, shirtless people covered in blood…..none of it their own, walked into camera views, glassy-eyed, in a state of mild shock.   They spoke to reporters, but you could practically see the horrific nature of what they’d seen, by simply looking into their faces.   Their evening began as happy, innocent  concert goers and ended with them as heroes to people they didn’t know.

Some perhaps will be permanently changed,  not only for what they witnessed, but because of  the surprise realization they were  suddenly extraordinary,  when they woke up that morning  as merely ordinary people with plans to attend an outdoor concert in a few hours.

And so many were extraordinary.     They dragged people out on by hands and feet, on make-shift gurneys…..anything would do:   A freezer that a vendor had been using minutes earlier to keep his wares fresh, they used parts of fence, signage….and then, once they got victims to safety, many went back in to try to get more people out of the line of  fire, some becoming victims in the process.

.Rapacious  political types with hateful  agendas have already begun the NRA/gun control  blame game.  This, even while shooting victims are still waiting their turn to enter the Opersting Room.

When will they learn?   When will we learn?.    We need to deal with mental illness for God’s sake.  We need to deal with all the reasons why this guy and the Eric Harrises, and the  Charles Whitman in the world  act on their illnesses.    The question must be asked:   what  keeps one person from being livid and dealing with it WITHOUT a body count?     What makes someone deal with their rage  WITH a body count?

What can be done about this?    Sadly, the reality is nothing.  We can’t make sense of this.   Quiet , unassuming lunacy is the worst kind.   There’s no condolence  big enough….no salve strong enough to heal the physical or psychic wounds.    And the fact that mental illness gets politicized, as does access  to guns. .    And in the midst of all this ridiculous partisan  ‘go nowhere’  policy debate, other sick  people and disenfranchised types–the kind ISIS sucks in, more people will die because a man or woman or a pair of enraged people with no impulse control,  will run over innocents,  stab them, shoot them, bomb them….how or why isn’t as important as the end result—death.

Yet, we still rise.    We watch videos of the attack ans see the heroism, and ask, how can such humanity exist in the presence of such inhumanity?   Well, if in the gloom grief produces, we can strain our eyes enough to see something good come  from all this,  that means progress, even in a situation prompted by evil.    Hopefully, we see that in real times of horror and chaos like what  happened in Vegas last night, skin color, politics, gender, different religious backgrounds mean nothing.     Because  when it comes to  a situation where thousands are forced into survival mode in a heartbeat, nothing  is black or white.    Not even gray,

Its just red.   The universal color of bloodshed.

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