Bringing out the Best and Worst of Our Society

It sounds cliche, but it is true: mass shootings bring out both the absolute worst and the best of our society. What happened two weeks ago in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay was inexplicable. My heart hurts for everyone affected by a man with an agenda that cannot be understood. It is amazing to me that so much hate exists in this world and that someone would have the conscious to even think about, let alone perform, such a tragic act. I am truly sorry that this happened and we should all pray that something like this will never happen again.

Unfortunately, we spend too much time saying those exact words: “I pray that

something like this will never happen again.” It is sad to say, but this will happen again. There are people in this world who want to see the world burn. It is our job as Americans to prevent these tragedies from happening, and if we cannot, to react and cope appropriately. That is what I saw these past two weeks that was so amazing to me. The outpouring of love and support for all of those who were affected by the worst mass shooting in United States history was truly something to behold.

Everywhere I turned, I saw Americans of every shape and size come together and provide their support for victims and their families. Even more encouraging and heart warming are the stories that you read and the videos that you watch where someone did something remarkable to save the lives of those involved in the shooting. At a time that we view America as being arguably the most divided since the Civil War, it is incredible to see the best of our society rise to the top. The division dissipates, people unite and Americans rally together to offer their unbounded love and support. While it is impossible to ignore the tragedy that began it all, ignoring the heroes would be doing a

disservice to those who risked their lives to save others.

What happened in Las Vegas, Orlando or Paris cannot rationally be explained. It boils down to acknowledging that there is hate that exists where evil lives in this world. But, there is also love and hope for a better world. I think it is so helpful to look at all of these stories that emerge in the aftermath of these tragedies to prove that America is better than all this. At a time where the rest of the world has had the opportunity to make a mockery of the United States because of the sometimes incompetent and often hateful person that leads our country, our citizens are able to prove that we are better than that. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a terrible focusing event to prove that, by-and-large, Americans will help each other and yearn to see each other thrive.

The man (whose name I choose not to write) who decided to take the lives of nearly 60 Americans and injure hundreds of more, does not define American society. It is those who risked their own lives to save friends, family and even strangers during the shooting that define us. It is the first responders that gave their time who define us. Lastly, it is Americans who pour out their hearts on social media, the news and other media outlets expressing their love, prayers and hope for a better world that define America. This is the best of society. Inexplicable tragedies happen and there is little that we can do. But, because of this, the best of our society rises to the top and we see a side of America that we can be proud of and build upon for future generations. 

Contact Paul Smyth at [email protected].