Actually, we’re safer now than we ever have been
The alarm goes off and with a quick bump of your thumb, snooze is summoned to work its magic. After about eight rounds of that whole shtick, it’s time to jump into the shower. While contemplating life’s ups and downs in 120-degree water, you’re secretly dreading what comes next, the social media check — as it’s become part of the routine over the last couple of years. Lately, it seems nothing good ever comes from it.
Yep, it’s happened again. “Gunman kills (insert growing numbers here)” — it’s another typical morning for millions around the world.
That was likely the scene for many as they woke up earlier this week to another mass shooting, this time hitting Sin City as a country music festival filled the streets across from Mandalay Bay. Like clockwork, “thoughts and prayers” were shoveled out like Halloween candy after news slowly trickled in; and even before the blood dried on the pavement, politicians, celebrities and attentive normies turned the scene into an opportunity to voice opinions.
Personally, as someone always coincidentally within arm’s reach of such tragedies, I’m not sure exactly how to feel yet — even though I know statistically we’re safer now than we ever have been.
As the PEW Research center points out, violent crime has taken a nosedive over the past quarter century. Based off numbers directly from the FBI, the rate has fallen some 50 percent since 1993. There has been a recent spike lately in the homicide rate, but it’s pertinent to keep in mind Chicago accounted for more than a fifth of the nationwide murder increase last year. Guns do a lot of killing in this country, too, but a large majority of those incidents are suicides. Overwhelmingly, most of us aren't in any position to be afraid.
Yet on the morning of Oct 3rd, after news struck, those around me were questioning how this could happen again, and how this would affect their own safety moving forward. Valid, as it does sort of seem like the world around us is crumbling, doesn’t it? The online vacuum everyone hangs out in really amplifies the very real risk of having so many people alive at one time.
“As somebody who covers a lot of music festivals my safety has never been a concern (these festivals provide adequate security and protection) after following up all night with news of the events of Las Vegas it makes you think if we are really safe,” posted one of my online friends.
“My mom always says ‘You can't live in fear,’” opined another. “For me, that is getting harder and harder to do every single day. I hesitate walking into any large group of people and get social anxiety when crowds are too big..as I know they are a bullseye for a terrorist. How can we genuinely not live in fear when people are being killed (frequently) at their most treasured places?”
At the core of these critiques, they aren’t wrong. It is scary to step out into large crowds now with darkness weighing heavily upon everyone's weary shoulders. Especially so for those who’ve spent a good amount of time where I live, Colorado — the repetitive songs always ring a bit differently here.
Dozens of people I know were inside Columbine high school the day two classmates opened fire on unarmed children for no apparent reason. Up until that point, the massacre was the worst event to happen in recent American history. As teenagers, my peers and I took it hard. Those were our people gunned down in cold blood.
Afterwards, for me, school still remained safe though. And as my daughters get dressed every morning to go to theirs, I never second-guess whether or not they’re coming home. The numbers just aren’t in terrorists' favor.
"Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom." -Marilyn Ferguson
Some years after Columbine, the state appeared in the national news cycle once again. This time it was the Aurora theater shooting — a place I spent my formative years at, picking up girls and smoking dirt-weed joints in the parking lot before peeping the latest flick.
Again, a madman was picking off places I loved. But I still go to the movies without thinking twice of who’s coming through the doors behind me. Chances are, they are good people wanting to watch the movie just like me. By a sweeping majority, no one wants to be violent to other people. It's not human.
Of course, it wasn’t just Colorado witnessing carnage since the April of 1999 shootings at a Littleton high school. Virginia Tech, the D.C. Sniper, Sandy Hook, Tucson, Bataclan, Pulse Nightclub (and some thousands of others) — mass shootings have become as American as apple pie.
And again, in Las Vegas — a place I was exactly one week before Stephen Paddock opened fire on a large crowd. Reports now even claim he rented apartments overlooking the parking lot where me and my wife stood watching Lorde, Muse and the Gorillaz throughout the weekend. It's possible he saw us down there, wishing he had the nerve to pull the trigger. But it was a “dry run,” one investigator remarked, he got “cold feet,” another said.
The thing is, I still feel safe in this world. I shouldn’t, but I do. Statistically, we’re mostly in for a long, healthy life with loved ones by our side. I say this not to minimize the atrocities happening around the world — we still need to do more to prevent anything like this from happening ever again — but to live in a world of fear is to live in a world of solitude. I refuse to allow trigger-happy weasels lock me in a mental cage without a key. All I can ask is for everyone else to do the same.
Sometimes, to be free, all one has to do is think about chances logically. They've killed enough, don't let them snuff out your spirit, too.