Daily Archives: October 3, 2017

The Most Unsettling of Massacres

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Today is one of those days that I really don’t know what to say. I woke up yesterday to go to work for the first time in two weeks after taking leaving in Germany. On my way to work I saw a news flash about the massacre in Las Vegas, but once I got to work I was too busy catching up and in meetings with my staff that it wasn’t until after noon before I was able to read more about it. As of when I am writing there are 60 confirmed dead and almost 530 wounded, all the victims of one man, a man named Stephen Paddock. Police say that Paddock had no criminal record, was well off, owned property in Florida and was a private pilot who owned two aircraft. Most people who knew or met him described as being normal. He had no history of mental illness, drug use or alcoholism.

But this supposedly normal man conducted the single worst massacre done by an individual in American history. Yes, there have been other massacres that have come close to or exceeded this, but they were conducted by organized bands of people, not just one man.

There is something terribly unsettling about this massacre. It was committed by a man who was ordinary and unremarkable; a man with apparently no deep political, ideological, or religious convictions. A man who according to everything I have read appeared for decades to be a perfectly normal citizen, a good neighbor and worker who had made enough money to be comfortable and to spend time gambling in $100 a hand poker games, in which he made a lot of money.

But despite that, he had twenty-three firearms in the hotel, including at least one which may have been modified to fire on full automatic as well as two pedestals to mount them. At his home he had another nineteen weapons, as well as explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition.That is not normal, and neither is getting a hotel room overlooking a concert venue where over 20,000 people were packed and opening fire with weapons set on automatic on the unsuspecting people below.

The blood flowed in Las Vegas as Paddock dealt death from on high on people that he did not know. I cannot get my mind around this and as of now police know of no racial, religious, or ideological reason for the massacre of 59 people and he wounding of 527 others. Each one of those people was an individual with his or her own story. They were men and women, sons and daughters, wives and husbands, children and parents, and Paddock massacred them in cold blood. If Paddock had a terrorist who had written a manifesto, or links to a terrorist group, or a person with a link to the people that he killed, such as being an angry coworker bent on revenge, it would still be shocking and evil, but easier to explain.

Unless something is found that explains his motive this will be difficult and unsettling to process because it makes no sense. I guess that is why Hannah Arendt noted “Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality.” At this time there is nothing for us to fall back on, except to say that it was an act of evil committed by a man who was by all accounts rather normal and nondescript. By our standards of morality and judgement his normality makes his actions much more frightening than the actions of a terrorist with a known political, ideological, or religious contempt for his victims. Such a man could be anyone’s next door neighbor. While it will not bring anyone back from the dead I do hope that the authorities will find evidence that explains why Paddock did this.

So until tomorrow,


Padre Steve+



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