I thought this morning would be a typical Monday: press the snooze button a couple times, get dressed, pack my lunch, and leave for work at 8:30 a.m., but that isn’t how it went. “Amy! There was a mass shooting last night at a concert in Las Vegas – around 50 people were killed and hundreds were wounded. They’re calling it the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history.”
I heard these words tumble out of my mom’s mouth as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. Mass shooting … 50 dead … Las Vegas … concert … It took a few minutes for me to process what she’d said. This isn’t the first time I, or any other US resident, has received news about a mass shooting. Sandy Hook Elementary School (Dec. 2012), San Bernardino (Dec. 2015), Aurora, Colorado (July 2012), and Virginia Tech (April 2007) are just a few from a long list of tragedies our country has endured in the past decade.
I’m devastated every time a mass shooting occurs. My head fills with questions. Who is capable of committing such an act? Why did they do it? How will the families of the victims ever recover? My heart breaks for the third question. How would you recover the loss of a loved one to a brutal murder like those in a mass shooting? Does the person responsible deserve forgiveness? Even as a Catholic, even I used to think no. How could anyone forgive a person who caused such horrific bloodshed on our American soil? The truth is, it will be hard and it will take a long time, but as I learned from “The Shack” (2017 Christian film), forgiveness IS possible.
Stephen Paddock, 64-year-old Las Vegas suspect, opened fire on 22,000 Jason Aldean concert attendees from a corner room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. After firing shots for 5-10 minutes, the police found him dead with 18-20 weapons. The panic that ensued when the hailstorm of gunshots rained down was beyond chaotic. People ducked for cover or ran in different directions trying to escape the terror. I can’t fathom the fear they all must’ve felt, unsure if they would make it out unharmed.
During my drive into work, I listened to K-Love, a Christian radio station. The morning show hosts were discussing how difficult it is to find good in this tragedy. They interviewed a woman who attended the concert with her 11-year-old daughter. The women had a military background so, when shots started, her instincts kicked in and she helped people get to safety. When she explained the good in a tragedy like this to her daughter, she pointed out that when chaos broke out, everyone united to help each other – and that is what matters here.
As I was driving and listening, I prayed. I prayed for the victims, those still alive and those who are not, all the victims’ families, and for the gunman. I prayed for his soul because even though I don’t know why he did what he did, I want him to repent for his sins and turn back to God. I’m angry at him for what he did to my fellow brothers and sisters, but he is still a child of God. I’m certain God will bring out the good from the evil Stephen Paddock unleashed on our nation. My hope is that the Las Vegas mass shooting will create more bridges for unity rather than walls for separation in our country.
“I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. We can take solace that even in the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be lightened by a single ray of hope.
We pray for the day when evil is banished and when the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear. May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost. May God give us the grace to heal, and may God provide the grieving families with the strength to carry on. Thank you, and God bless America.” – President Trump
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