What Last Month Can Teach Us About Now: October 2017

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Flowers, candles and other items surround the famous Las Vegas sign at a makeshift memorial for victims of a mass shooting Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Las Vegas. Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor country music concert killing dozens and injuring hundreds. (AP Photo/John Locher)

"This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” –John 15:12-13

On October 1, 2017 a gunman fired into a crowd of people at a concert, killing 59 people and injuring 527. I remember where I was when I heard the news of the Las Vegas shooting. I was just waking up from a peaceful sleep, savoring the last few blissful moments of rest before I had to get up. My dog was curled up against my legs and the birds were singing in the morning light outside my window. My alarm rang and I reached for it, pressing the snooze with the intent of resting just a little bit longer, when it lit up my screen: the news alert for the shooting.

I read it over and over again, trying to comprehend what I was seeing. It didn’t feel possible that such terror could be occurring somewhere so close when everything was so quiet here. It took several moments before my mind accepted that this was real. This had actually happened.

My immediate thought was of my family in Las Vegas and I texted my mom, asking her to check on them. I knew it was unlikely that they would have been at the concert, but I was shaking as I waited for her reply. We heard from them quickly as they posted on Facebook, telling everyone that they were all right. I felt myself instantly relax. And then the guilt set in.

Because my immediate reaction after finding that my family was safe was to put it out of my mind. I could do that, I knew, now that I knew that no one in my family had been hurt. But for those who were there or had family and friends that were there, moving on just wasn’t a possibility for them. They’d never be free of the events that happened in Vegas that night. And suddenly I knew that I couldn’t truly be either.

Because although my blood relations had made it through the night, I realized that all my family hadn’t. Many of my brothers and sisters of this world had been hurt and killed, and just because I didn’t know their names didn’t mean we weren’t connected. The wounded man who threw himself over Amy McAslin to shield her from the bullets didn’t know her name. Lindsay Padgett and Mark Jay didn’t know the names of the injured that they drove to the hospital.  The off-duty nurse who ran back into danger to tend to the victims didn’t know their names. And yet, all of these people not only stepped up to help these strangers, they risked their lives again and again for them.

This is my fight because these are my brothers and sisters. And while we may not always agree about what has to be done in these situations, we all want the same thing: for this never to happen again. Not just because it could be us next time. Not just because it could be our family or our friends or our town. But because it already has been.

Read more about the heroes of Las Vegas here.

Rachel Swearingen is a senior integrated studies major at Ball State University. She plans to go to graduate school next year to get an MFA in English with the ultimate goal of one day writing a novel. In her free time she loves to read, ride horses and get lost in the woods with her dog.

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