We all deal with death, having no choice in the matter. We have strategies. These strategies hinge on finding some explanation, some meaning, or at least some excuse for the death in question. The massacre in Las Vegas, at this time of writing, leaves us bereft, because there appears at this time to be no meaning, however tenuous, behind the slaughter. We have even gotten accustomed, in these cruel times, to young people — disturbed adolescents — who embrace mass murder and suicide in a kind of competitive effort to be the very worst. Even that contains a wisp of an excuse (may God forgive us). But a 64 year-old man?
Absent some unifying explanation which emerges from the shadows of his life, we are left to understand nothing, and we feel numb; indeed, the elevation of nothingness seems to be the only thing in play here.
The man’s brother tells us that the perpetrator was a regular guy, who liked video poker and burritos. And doubtless a lot of regular guys enjoy those things. But pastimes do not equate with meaning. Did he come to hate his life as being meaningless, and become possessed by a diabolical wish to demonstrate that everything is meaningless?
In our modern and enlightened times we tend towards conceding that there is no ultimate meaning and truth, but that everything is merely relative. Yet meaninglessness taken to its ultimate conclusion is a concrete thing, a final end; it is not merely getting along.
An act of vast and deliberate evil such as happened in Las Vegas a couple of days ago seems only to be an effort to convert a world with meaning into one that has none. An act committed out of spite, out of hatred of life, and straight out of the gates of hell.
As such it would be an act of pure darkness, and a reminder that we can never underestimate the reality and the power of darkness, and its constant inclination to overwhelm each and every one of us. At times we can only hang on by a thread to this single greater reality: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)