My laptop screen stares at me. Blank just like my mind. Over the past weekend, some ideas had flickered in my head regarding the next column. Over the week I planned to put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard and flesh them out. Until I woke up Monday morning.
The opening chords of a Beatles song reverberate, “I read the news today oh boy….” It’s easy to simply change the words and elaborate on any of the horrific incidents gripping this world of ours. Las Vegas is another macabre event in a long line of mind numbing ones. Ironically, before the grief, anger, shock, horror kicks in, isn’t the first thought one of relief? Don’t we all think, “It could have been me”? “Thank God I wasn’t there?” “I’m grateful my children, friends, parents, loved ones weren’t at the scene of the attack?”
It’s the reality of our times. We are becoming immune to these incidents, no matter how gruesome. We empathize. We emote. We move on. This episode transported me to the monstrous November 2008 hotel shootings in Mumbai. That was also a targeted occurrence, which the news media covered ad nauseam. I watched and wept as I do now. Ofcourse the two killings are different. The motive behind 26/11 was quite clear. The perpetrators eventually apprehended and the only surviving shooter in Mumbai was eventually hung.
Reporters descended on Vegas. Video clippings of the shooting are on rerun mode. Despite interviews with cops and mayors, relatives and survivors, politicians and first responders, even the killer’s live–in companion, the puzzle remains scattered. How did such a large hotel, in today’s ultra-paranoid world of security, manage to allow a man to get in with so many weapons? And the million-dollar question remains unanswered. Why did he do it? Was he radicalized? The bigger idea of shooting innocent people holds true for all such incidents. That people can even think of picking up a weapon and ending one life leave alone hundreds of them, is in itself a shocking statement. It’s an internal war.
Meanwhile tears keep rolling down my cheeks. #neveragain I make a mental promise. I rant, rave, switch off the world. But what can we do? Can we stop the killing? When will the hate end? I ramble. I’m incoherent. Because I don’t know what to make of our world today. We’re helpless. It’s easy to say change the gun rules but this is way beyond that. My son claims he wants to shoot himself in a capsule out to space and circumnavigate the universe until his end comes. He’s only 26. It’s not the world he wants to inherit. How did it all go wrong?
My Hinduism research tells me we still have over 400,000 years of Kalyug before the end is nigh. It’s bad enough now, how much worse is it going to get? Maybe women should just remove their ovaries in protest and no longer populate Earth. This brain we pride ourselves on, it only leads to trouble. Let’s leave the world to animals. They behave better than humans.
Today, thoughtless world leaders are threatening to release nuclear weapons. The rise of identity politics, alt right groups, discriminators and their ilk is alarming. Shiva had it right. Maybe a marijuana induced state will help us deal with the world better. We need a sabbatical from this mad, mad world. Introspection and meditation should be our weapons of choice. Not guns.
This country does nothing about the gun laws. The US constitution’s second amendment is fiercely guarded. No one dare toy with the right to bear arms. What’s a few lives? So what if kids, worshippers, commuters, music lovers, gay men at bars, are collateral damage. Human lives are dispensable. The rest of the world watches in amazement at the government’s inability to quell this phenomenon. The US is not the only country to have reeled under gunmen but where other governments have been proactive, the US refuses to take a stand. Stricter gun laws, non-availability of ammunition, there are so many ways to contain this kind of situation from recurring.
President Obama pleaded and cried. He vented and showed his frustration, but was ineffective. Even during the primaries, Clinton and Sanders dared not go the whole gamut and demand a revoking. That voter base is too fragile and too important. And then we have the Ra Ra gun toting Republicans. True, Trump’s sombre, out of character address to the nation while expressing his ‘warmest’ condolences, set the right tone. But without making it political, Americans need to hear him say something about guns. The hand wringing, the flag at half-staff, the national day of mourning, is all well and good. Interestingly the carnage was deemed an ‘evil act’ and not an ‘act of terror’. Wonder if it would have been different had the perpetrator not been an older white male.
In the meantime, statistics show how more Americans have died due to gun violence than terrorist strikes. And yet there are no consequences. Therein lies the problem. Leaving a nation benumbed. Grief stricken. Angered. Helpless. Frustrated.