Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bullets From the Sky: The Horror of "Anonymous Violence"

People captured live videos as an open air concert turned into a war zone. 
We awoke yesterday morning to the horrific news of a murderous shooting spree at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A gunman with long range automatic weapons fired for a sustained period of time from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel, shooting at the masses of helpless people below, killed 59 and injuring over 500. May God have mercy on them, and bring healing.

What a world we live in!๐Ÿ˜ž

Bullets from the sky raining down on a crowd of 22,000 people. The gunman killed himself before police were finally able to locate and storm his hotel room. His motives and the causes of his twisted character remain unknown. The shooter was a 64 year old retired accountant and local resident with no ties to any terrorist organization. He had no police record and no known history of mental illness.

And yet, without any prior military training or law enforcement experience, this man constructed the perfect sniper's nest in a tall hotel building across the street from and towering over the concert venue. He apparently gave no signals of violent intent or indications of hostility toward anyone, even as he was stockpiling weapons and ammunition over the course of weeks and meticulously planning and preparing to unleash mayhem on a large crowd of his fellow human beings.

What manner of madness is this?

If it was not to send a message, not for politics, not for some unholy ideology, then WHY? Is it just some random incomprehensible killing spree? It would not be the first of its kind. There have been too many in recent years. We are threatened not only by terrorist attacks, but also by inexplicable unhinged rampages by seemingly ordinary people who arm themselves to the teeth and wreak havoc in public places.

They kill strangers for no clearly discernible reason at all. They don't leave notes, or publish manifestos, or wave flags and shout battle cries. They shoot others, then kill themselves, and leave little or nothing behind.

This is not to say that the victims or anyone else derived comfort from the crazy paper trail of the Columbine killers, the political ravings of the Unabomber, the wild maniacal video of the Virginia Tech shooter, or the blasphemous invocations of "Allah" by militant fanatics in the name of their Islamist ideology. Still, it's only human to search for a motive for murder, even a bizarre motive.

But even if the investigation of Sunday night's massacre eventually turns up discovering some twisted motive that we can even remotely comprehend, many other instances will still remain "cold cases," left with nothing but speculation and hearsay, and to feed the wild imaginations of conspiracy theorists.

Is this "the new normal" in our society? Must we come to accept that we live in a world where people just gun down other people for no reason at all, where people assemble arsenals and plan tactical assaults on others without even communicating why they consider these others to be "enemies" who deserve to die?

This is a horrible evil that we can all recognize and agree about. It requires us to give some serious, attentive consideration to what we can do to step back from the edge of the abyss of a culture of anonymous violence, of violence for its own sake.

May God help and be close to the victims of this monstrous attack. Lord have mercy on the dead, console their loved ones, and heal the many physical and mental injuries.

Let us not forget these people. They will continue to need much care, compassion, and solidarity from us long after this story is replaced on our Twitter feeds by more recent attention grabbing and too often distracting "news items."

In addition to known casualty numbers at the Harvest Festival, thousands of people endured an unspeakable trauma during the several minutes of shooting, as they tried to flee the scene or take cover without knowing where the bullets were coming from, and as they watched others die before their very eyes. These people will continue to need healing and support.

In the aftermath of the terror, we also heard many reports of heroic actions, of people carrying wounded, or shielding others with their own bodies. Some lost their own lives while saving the lives of others. Even as we were stunned by blatant evil, we also saw the manifestation of the beauty of heroic goodness and courage. The good is so much greater, more beautiful; it draws our hearts and tempers our fears and anxiety. Goodness does not cease to glow. It never gives up the struggle against human malice, because truth, goodness, and beauty are the shape of reality, of being.

Evil, therefore, will not have the final word. But this was an awful blow.

It is with sorrow that we reflect that events of cruel and ruthless violence like this one are perpetrated every day throughout the world. Whole nations are engulfed in violence. Our technology, our mass communications, our unprecedented mobility, and our capacity to produce material things have certainly opened new possibilities for doing good in the world, for showing solidarity and mercy to one another. They have also enabled the globalization of terror.

Even as we redouble our efforts to fight these brutal killings and to protect people, we know that we cannot "fix" the human heart with any of the tools of scientific progress.

Ultimately, our hope is in God. Jesus, have mercy on us, on all of us sinners.


Puerto Rico in ruins, facing an escalation of continuing hardships

Meanwhile, we must not forget the continuing repercussions of natural disasters. This has a very specific claim on the attention on those of us who are Americans. Puerto Rico continues to suffer from the destruction wrought throughout the island by hurricane Maria.

There remains an urgent need for food, clean water, and the most basic human necessities as this territory of the United States of America and its three and a half million people endure an ongoing catastrophe.


We entrust to the Lord all those who have died or who are suffering in these difficult times.๐Ÿ’š