Las Vegas: Unity in the Wake of Disaster
AP PHOTO VIA MORUNG EXPRESS
Thoughts and prayers. These are the words surrounding the Las Vegas area after the tragedy that occurred on October 1, 2017 at the Route 91 Festival: the deadliest shooting in modern American History. Those words hit everyone around the world. For Las Vegas residents, those words hit home. These events always seem like pictures and video on a distant screen until it becomes your hometown. For locals, this was an attack on not only their country but their city, their home, their family, their friends, and themselves. The lives that were lost were more than names on a paper; they were mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, husbands, wives, and friends. This event affected more than the 59 people who died and the 514+ people who are injured. It affects their families, this city, this country, and the globe. As the number of people who have died and injured continues to rise, the number of people affected likewise escalates
With a horrific event like this, there needs to be a response. The Las Vegas area often sees division, as the community who lives there often separates themselves from each other and from the city. However, the responses to this tragedy brought pride to the area code of 702. With different needs from different parts of the valley, we came together to provide necessities for victims. Blood donation lines the morning after the incident were so long the banks were forced to turn people away due to a lack of space. That is the definition of a community coming together for a common cause. Moreover, counselors, donation centers, a family reunion center, and vigils were held in respect Metro Police Officers and hospitals throughout Las Vegas worked around the clock to save people’s lives that were endangered due to a senseless act of violence. This is why the city’s residents are so proud of #VegasStrong.
Yet, there was also negative reactions to this event, largely when people tried to politicize this tragedy rather than mourning those who have been lost. A debate originated on social media regarding gun control, the label of “terrorist”, and police brutality by both citizens and politicians. While these are pressing debates in our country, they shouldn’t be prioritized as matters of discussion less than 24 hours after one of the biggest shootings in US history. I believe that this reaction shows that the polarization in our country is at an all-time high, where parties use any example to prove that their view on an issue is correct. This leads to the shooting and the lives it stole losing meaning. It reduces them a fact or a statistic. Debates over gun control and gun rights is a debate that needs to be held, but not now. We need to address the victims and their needs, then address gun control. People were also quick to blame news channels and politicians for not using the word terrorist in such an event. Yet another negative reaction occurred when people of all races and backgrounds made this event and the actions of the Las Vegas Metro an issue of race and police brutality. The United States should be looking towards recovery and stopping the bleeding from this tragic event, not looking for who is to blame. What they are currently doing is exacerbating the divides in our country with every word.
While many politicians failed to promote unity, most Vegas residents bridged the divide by uniting as one in the wake of the disaster, turning on the light for a beacon of hope that was lost so many years ago. We can all learn from this tragedy by not only remembering those who have been lost but by remembering how to considerately react in the wake of a disaster.