By Rick Fromm
By Rick Fromm

     I’ll admit it, as I write this column I’m so angry I can’t see straight.

While I, along with the rest of America and the world, try to make any rational sense out of what happened in Las Vegas Sunday night, I can’t help but wonder what we have become and where we’re headed. To be honest, I don’t think anyone knows what the future will bring.

Back when I was a young adult studying at Luther College, the world was a different place. Despite the fact tens of thousands of America’s finest were being killed in an ill-advised war in Vietnam, the emphasis at home was on peace and love. Call it what you will, the “Hippie” movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s was all about trying to live together in harmony without the threat of violence or wanton killing.

At that time, mass shootings were extremely rare as we tried our best to evolve into a society that embraced peace rather than mayhem. In 1969 it was difficult to envision our society going from “flower power” and love for all, to one where people are slaughtered like animals simply for choosing to attend a concert.

How did we go from that message of peace and understanding to a nation of sick individuals who elect to solve their personal problems by killing as many innocent people as possible before taking their own lives or being killed themselves?

Unfortunately, no one has the definitive answer to that question, so the problem never gets solved. While most of us bounce along our merry way, basically immune to the devastation and destruction, the threat of something similar to what happened in Las Vegas occurring again is all-too real. I’m sure even as I write this, someone, somewhere is drawing up plans for an even bigger mass shooting. It’s almost guaranteed.

So what exactly can we do about it? I remain pessimistic that anything will work to quell the hatred that seemingly exists everywhere. Even if we adopt tougher, more-stringent firearm laws, the ones who are intent on killing will find a way to get it done. Automatic weapons designed to blow apart human bodies in alarmingly rapid fashion, can be obtained on the black market with relative ease.

In actuality, the choice of weapon used is beside the point. Whether it’s automatic rifles, knives, machetes or homemade fertilizer bombs, if someone is intent on wasting a lot of people, there are an infinite number of ways to get it done.

And I’ve grown weary of listening to folks say that “love will conquer hate.” I’d like to believe that statement is true and love will win in the end, but the way things are going, I’m pessimistic about the whole concept.

Opening doors for others or participating in some random act of kindness is the right thing to do and the right way to live, but will it have a profound, long-lasting impact on our nation and world? Unfortunately, I doubt it.

Yes, I want desperately to believe love will win out in the end, but I also am realistic enough to know that despite continual acts of kindness, etc., no amount of love will bring those 59 folks gunned down in cold blood in Las Vegas back to life. Period. Not gonna happen.

Although it’s a terrible way to live, and only seems to play into the hands of terrorists (no matter the kind), perhaps the only thing we can do is avoid putting ourselves in those situations. In other words, don’t attend events with thousands of people and stay away from any large gatherings. Again, that’s no way to live in 2017, but what other choice do we have? If you stay home instead of going to that concert, there’s an excellent chance you won’t end up dead.

Does this mean that hate is winning out over love? Let’s hope not, but in the words of Bruce Springsteen in his album Nebraska, “I guess there’s just a meanness in this world.”

Want proof? Just do the math (and this doesn’t include similar mass executions in other parts of the world): 

1. Las Vegas: Oct. 1, 2017; 59 killed and more than 515 wounded.

2. Orlando, Fla.: June 12, 2016; 49 people killed and more than 58 wounded.

3. Blacksburg, Va.: April 16, 2007; 33 killed (including the shooter) and 17 wounded on the campus of Virginia Tech.

4. Newtown, Conn.: Dec. 14, 2012; 28 killed, including shooter and his mother along with 20 children aged 6 and 7, and 2 wounded at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

5. Killeen, Texas: Oct. 16, 1991; 24 killed (including shooter) and 27 wounded.

6. San Ysidro, Calif.: July 19, 1984; 22 killed (including shooter) and 19 wounded.

7. Austin, Texas: Aug. 1, 1966;18 killed (including shooter) and 31 wounded in what became known as the University of Texas tower shooting.

8. Edmond, Okla.: Aug. 20, 1986;15 killed (including shooter) and 6 wounded.

9. San Bernardino, Calif.: Dec. 2, 2015; 16 killed (including 2 shooters) and 24 wounded.

10. Fort Hood, Texas: Nov. 5, 2009;13 killed and 33 wounded.