I woke up this morning to the news about the shooting in Las Vegas.
All I could do upon hearing the news was shrug. Maybe I've become numb to violence. Maybe I was dreading the commentary about the shooter's motives:
- Was he an ISIS terrorist? If so, I'd better brace for arguments in favor of travel bans, racial profiling, and dropping more bombs on yet another country.
- Was he an alt-right terrorist? Then I'll need to duck as people blame President Trump, the NRA, and the GOP for enabling this man's hatred.
- Was he simply a psychopath? Then I'd better hide as people hurl vindictive diatribes about the state of mental health--and healthcare more generally--in the United States.
My wife asked me if I had heard. I nodded. "How can someone do this?" she asked. "He must have been evil." She was not alone in her sentiment.
Eight-o'clock in the morning is too early to be talking about evil.
None of us know--or are capable of knowing--the status of this man's soul. Maybe he was evil. Maybe he was sick. What I do know is that he was suffering; his inability to understand the nature of his suffering and the lack of compassion in his life led him to commit a horrible act of violence, a "senseless tragedy" in the words of Pope Francis.
We should all pray for the victims and their families. We should also pray for the shooter, Stephen Paddock, and his family.
We are all suffering and hurting today. The best response to such senselessness is compassion, to show one another loving kindness.
Center yourself by focusing on your breath; let it flow smooth, deep, and free. As you breath, allow your mind to become calm and still. After all, it is with a breath that God gave us life (Genesis 2:7) and Jesus Christ gave us the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22)
Bring to mind the victims of the shooting and their families. As you think of them, say the following:
May they find comfort, peace, and healing.
May they be free of fear, anger, and hatred.
May they know love, kindness, and compassion.
Repeat these prayers for the people of our country and for yourself. Finally, repeat this prayer for Stephen Paddock and his family.