Yep, it happened again: “Gunman kills (insert growing numbers here).” Checking in on social media lately is a drain these days, tragedy always seems to be the daily narrative.
Like last month, when many woke to the reports of another mass shooting, this time hitting Sin City as a country music festival filled the streets across from Mandalay Bay. Like clockwork, “thoughts and prayers” were shoveled out like candy. And even before the blood dried on the pavement, politicians, celebrities and normies like you and I grabbed the scene as an opportunity to deliver fear-mongering opinions.
It’s a weird dichotomy we find ourselves in right now. On the one hand, everything seems to be closing in on us; everyone is doomed for disaster. On the other, we’re statistically safer than we ever have been. Hundreds of reports prove it.
Violent crime, down. Sexual assault, down. Childhood abuse, down. War, down. In fact, the things we should be more concerned with that do kill millions — global climate change, disease, big pharma, nutrition — barely breach our carefully manipulated Newsfeeds.
As one example, the PEW Research Center found violent crime has taken a nosedive over the past quarter century. Based off numbers directly from the FBI, the rate has fallen some 50 percent since 1993. And even though there has been a recent spike lately in the homicide rate — a statistic Jeff Sessions touches himself to — it’s pertinent to keep in mind Chicago accounted for more than a fifth of the nationwide murder increase last year, and only a handful of neighborhoods there are at fault in the city.
Yet on the morning of October 3rd, after news of the Las Vegas shooter broke, those around me were questioning how this could happen again, and how this would impact their own safety moving forward. Valid, as it does sort of seem like the world around us is crumbling, doesn’t it? The online vacuum everyone hangs out in amplifies the very real risk of having so many people alive at the same time.
“After following up all night with news of the events of Las Vegas,” one friend posted, “it makes you think if we are really safe.”
“My mom always says, ‘You can’t live in fear,’” opined another. “For me, that is getting harder and harder to do every single day. How can we genuinely not live in fear when people are being killed (frequently) at their most treasured places?”
At the core of these critiques, they aren’t wrong. It is scary to step out into large crowds now. Especially so for those who’ve spent a good amount of time in Colorado, like myself, who is always coincidentally within arms reach of these stories — the repetitive songs that always chime a bit differently here.
Dozens of people I know were inside Columbine High School the day two classmates opened fire on unarmed children for no apparent reason. As teenagers, my peers and I took it hard. Those were our people gunned down in cold blood.
Some years later, the state appeared in the national news cycle once again. This time it was the Aurora theater shooting, a place I spent my formative years at picking up girls and smoking dirt-weed joints in the parking lot before peeping the latest flick.
And in Las Vegas, exactly one week before Stephen Paddock opened fire on a large crowd, my wife and I were at the Life is Beautiful music festival only a few miles away from Route 91’s location. Reports even claim Paddock rented apartments overlooking the parking lot where we stood watching Lorde, Muse and the Gorillaz. It’s possible he saw us down there through a scope, wishing he had the nerve to pull the trigger.
The thing is, I still feel safe in this world. I shouldn’t, but I do. I watch my daughters get dressed before school and never once question if they’ll be coming home or not. School is still safe. And I go to the movies, never wondering who’s coming in the door behind me. They’re safe, too. By a sweeping majority, no one wants to be violent to other people. It just isn’t human.
The numbers say we’re mostly in for a long, healthy life with loved ones by our side. I say this not to minimize the atrocities happening around the world — we still need to do more to prevent catastrophes and build trust in our communities — but to live in fear is to live in a state of solitude. I refuse to allow anyone to lock me in a mental cage without a key. All I can ask is for everyone else to try and do the same.
Sometimes, to be free, all one has to do is think about chances logically. They’ve killed enough, don’t let them snuff out your spirit, too.