Looking for answers in a sea of confusion

Friday, October 6, 2017

It's hard to think of anything but senseless death and mayhem in the hours following the events in Las Vegas.

The death counts and the injury counts and the blurry, shaking videos caught on smart phones are recycled. Again and again and again.

Despite this around-the-clock barrage of what passes these days as information, we know so little about the "why" of Las Vegas -- despite the fact that our nation and much of the world have experienced so many such tragedies. Again and again and again.

Meanwhile, with news outlets and social media consumed by one man's insane actions, it seems we have abandoned our focus on other tragedies, namely deadly hurricanes. In the aftermath of those violent storms, human suffering beyond comprehension continues minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

Poor Texas.

Poor Florida.

Poor Puerto Rico.

In the wake of such tragedies most of us are inclined to spend some time in serious thought about what could be done to prevent a repeat of school shootings, theater massacres, nightclub mass murders and open-air concert slaughters.

One option would be to treat mass killings much the way we do hurricanes. We can, with so much advanced meteorological technology, watch potential killers form over open ocean days before they threaten human habitation in their paths.

Once detected, a hurricane cannot be stopped or diverted. But a killer with an arsenal of automatic rifles and a horde of ammunition might -- just might -- be stopped if warning signs are heeded.

The gun dealer in Arizona who lawfully sold firearms to the Las Vegas shooter might have raised an early warning of the potential devastation to some.

Surely someone -- hotel maids and other Mandalay Bay employees -- noticed the large cache of weapons being toted into a guest room on the 32nd floor.

Surely the same intelligence capabilities that have revealed so much about the Las Vegas shooter -- his gambling, his family, his love life, his habits -- could, with appropriate resources, detect the first stirrings of an assault whose aftermath leaves so much human destruction in its wake.

Prayer vigils have been held around the world for the Las Vegas victims. Good.

But remember to pray for all who suffer for whatever reason and who face desperation and hopelessness in their lives.

Pray, if you can, for the shooter whose motivation is known to God alone.

Pray, if you can, for the resolve to pay attention when our brothers and sisters behave in ways that display a potential for evil.

Pray, please, for one another. Pray for enlightenment to replace bewilderment, for grace to replace fear, for mercy to replace condemnation.

Pray.

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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