Another weekend, another massacre in America.
A deranged man took a small arsenal to his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, and rained death onto a crowd of country music concert fans below. It turned into the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
We characterize the shooter, now also dead, as “deranged” because what else could he be?
The why of this question may never be answered. The shooter’s family members apparently were stunned by what the older brother did in Las Vegas. In fact, one relative was almost speechless. Emotional but without words to answer the question that haunts America and its citizens.
One answer could be in America’s fascination with and devotion to guns. But that’s not the real answer, just the easiest one to seize upon in situations such as this. The crazy man on the 32nd floor, in an act of terror, could just as easily have launched a bomb into the concert crowd, or a bottle of acid, or some kind of deadly germ concoction.
The weapon is a vehicle of choice, but the choice itself is made by the person pulling the trigger or tossing the bomb. In Las Vegas on Sunday night, the real problem was the lone man behind the broken window, firing into a crowd of people he could not know, and evidently did not care about.
It takes a badly deranged mind to do such a thing, a human crazy with a hate for life and self-loathing for himself. In that context, one can feel only pity for the sick person, and sorrow for those his killing spree left behind.
There are many broken things in America. We have thousands of hopelessly-obsolete bridges, many on the verge of collapse. We have cross-country highways sorely in need of repair. We have ancient water and electric power delivery systems now proving themselves unreliable.
And we have a great many Americans suffering from various manifestations of mental illness.
It it obvious that we need to fix these broken things, or at least try. Repairs cannot be made unless we can work together for the common good. And we can’t come together when we are torn apart by so many things that don’t really matter.
Americans have spent more time in the past few days worrying about whether professional athletes should be made to stand for the national anthem, than we’ve spent on the plight of fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, Florida and south-central Texas. And don’t forget our neighbors in Mexico, where many are still missing after a killer earthquake.
What happened in Las Vegas on Sunday night was a horror show, one of this nation’s very worst human tragedies. But we can’t begin to heal and unite if the debate focuses — and gets hung up on — the tools of destruction.
President Trump showed some leadership in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, identifying the evil of such an act and urging citizens to unite.
That is the best advice in situations such as this, and there are so many ways unification can take place. The White House has demonstrated its willingness, now it’s up to members of Congress to give up some ideological territory, meet in the middle and create policy that can help make this nation what it was, and is intended to be.
Maybe if we can change the political climate, the social part will also come closer together. There are, of course, no guarantees but it is worth a try.