There are still too many questions to answer before understanding the motive behind the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. A lone gunman opened fire with automatic weapons from the 32nd floor of his Mandalay Bay Hotel, raining bullets on jubilant, defenseless concertgoers. This was a well thought out intentional massacre of innocent people.
So where do we find the love in this?
An attribute of unconditional, or unlimited love is that it protects. You might think, “What about all those people who were killed and wounded? They were not protected. Where was love for them?” This is a valid and difficult question, and one for which I don’t have a short or clear answer. However, what I would like to do is recognize love’s protection that kept this horrific event from being even worse.
Thankfully, the police located the remote and unknown location of the shooter before he was able to carry out the extent of his plans. Considering the arsenal of weapons amassed in his hotel room, the death toll could have been significantly higher. Not only were officers dispatched to the hotel, but off-duty officers attending the concert risked their lives to identify the location of the shooter. While others ran away, these courageous men and women ran toward the gunfire, and some lost their lives or were seriously injured because of it. They swore an oath to serve and protect. Their love for others was their driving force. They were quick and professional because they devoted their lives to this oath and this love.
Not only were career law enforcement personnel willing to risk their lives, but stories are emerging of individuals whose love for friends or family, or sometimes even strangers, led to incredible acts of heroism. Some used their bodies as human shields to prevent strangers from being hit by bullets. Others ran unprotected into the gunfire to lead people to safety, or transport the wounded and dying to the hospital.
One way this unconditional love has been defined is, “The desire to put the well-being of another ahead of one’s own.” This is how they acted. They acted from a place of love. Because of this, though many lives were tragically lost, thankfully many more were saved.
Lastly, the gunman. We do not know yet, and may never really understand, what drove someone to such an insane act of evil. The only explanation I can fathom is he must have been feeling a great deal of pain within himself to be willing to inflict this type of pain on others. I pray for those who end up suffering the consequences of another’s internal anguish, but I also pray for the person going through it. I pray that unconditional love guides them through whatever mental pain they are experiencing, so they can find peace within themselves and not desire to hurt others.
If you know someone who is going through something difficult, show them unconditional love. If you know someone who is contemplating hurting themselves or others, do what is most loving and get them help. You may never know how many lives you could be saving.
My prayer is that someday, no matter how deep and dark things seem to be, love will be the hero that saves us all.