Modern tragedy: dealing with indifference

Modern tragedy: dealing with indifference

Samuel McCullough

I went to bed Oct. 1 like any other night: reading for 30 minutes and lights out by 11:00 p.m. because I have an 8 a.m. the following morning. I woke up, showered, ate breakfast, walked to my biology lecture and endured the ins and outs of DNA replication. As I walked back to my room wondering how I would spend the hour between my next class, a news notification appeared on my phone—something to do with Las Vegas. I quickly disregarded it, thinking, “There’ll be time for that later, there are Pokemon to catch.”

The next time I would pull out my phone was while I was waiting for my organic lecture to start. There was a second notification giving rise to something having transpired in Las Vegas—more specific this time and I’ve got family there. It was a good thing I was sitting down.   

In the rapidly waning minutes before my professor walked in, I would learn that on Oct. 1, the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States had occurred in Las Vegas.

At 10 p.m., Jason Aldean began performing the closing act of the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival: a 15-acre event that had called the Las Vegas Village home for three years.

At 10:05 p.m., Stephen Paddock began firing hundreds of rounds from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Within just 10 minutes, Paddock would end the lives of 22 men and 36 women and would injure 489 more.

I can imagine what being there on Sunday evening was like: attending the crowning event of a three day music festival, having, no doubt, partaken in all that was there to offer, you’d be feeling pretty good. I know I was when I went to the Gentlemen Of The Road Tour that came through my hometown of Dixon, Illinois.

But what I cannot envision is the mortal terror that must have stricken everyone present: to suddenly become a target, a prey of some unknown force that you can’t even see. No, there’s no way for me to put that into words for I have not experienced it, and I believe anything more would belittle those who had the misfortune of being present at this most recent calamity.

As tragic as massacres inherently are, the shooting at the Harvest Country Music Festival is hardly the first. That is not to say that it should be underplayed in any sense; 58 people did not wake up as I or you did on Oct. 2 and nearly 500 more woke up in a hospital they probably don’t remember checking into. But I found myself so outraged from the wake of this event because I had acted like it was the first time a heinous act had been committed.

I completely overlooked the suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, United Kingdom earlier this year. This tragedy claimed 22 victims and injured 250 more, not to mention the psychological damage inflicted to the 14,000 people in attendance. Young girls and families, no different from my own two sisters and mother back home, were directly affected by a villainous act.

Why had I not remembered? Had I fallen prey to the senseless way our mass media portrays such things? Or had I simply encountered my own harrowing indifference?

After a week of reflection, I still don’t know. I don’t have any answers to why these events keep happening, how to stop them, nor even what do in their wake. But I have had my own indifference towards loss laid bare in front of me. Maybe I would have paid better attention if one of my sisters had gone off to a similar concert, because someone else’s didn’t come back.