The waiting is the hardest part.

Last night before going to sleep I did my usual thing of one more compulsive round of social media before finally turning out the lights.

The breaking news was the Las Vegas shooting.

I read the news reports with equal parts horror and sadness. No, sadness doesn’t even begin to cover the despair and anguish I feel at yet another music event shooting. I turned to Facebook and was even more upset to see that someone I know, who had been in Paris with her husband, was now in Vegas, reassuring everyone that they were both okay. This is someone who lives on my street, someone I see at the school gates or around the neighbourhood walking her dog. This is someone I know, and it freaked me the fuck out.

Today I woke to news of the death of Tom Petty, which was later updated to him being on life support, and sadly, just a short time ago, his death has been confirmed.

Music and sadness shouldn’t go together but sometimes they do. We farewell artists whose words and music touched our lives, made a difference to us and so many others, who leave a legacy in their wake. It’s always sad to hear of the passing of a beloved musician because they can be such a huge part of our lives, their voices as familiar as a spouse or best friend, their songs ingrained in our psyche and consciousness, never to be forgotten. I only really delved into the music of Tom Petty earlier this year and have been loving it, and while I was super late to the party I fully appreciate his place in rock and roll history and can understand the impact he had as a musician.

But sadness and terror are two very different things.

Concerts have always been a place to forget, a place where you are given no alternative but to leave your troubles and worries at the door. We go to concerts to feel only positive emotions: the joy at listening to music you love, the awe at seeing someone you idolise up close and personal, the fun of dancing among a crowd of people who all feel the same way where you smile at strangers and just let go of all the shit that can sometimes drag us down.

Everyone goes to music concerts, from young to old to families to individuals to couples to groups of friends. The concert at Vegas was chock a block with people who, like the people at Manchester and Paris, were just there to have a good night. To be honest, and I’ve been to lots of concerts, it’s one of the few places left where the whole point of being there is just to be happy and have fun. There is no place for politics or race or terrorism at a music concert.

So much has been said today about gun control in the U.S., or lack thereof. Just like it was all anyone could talk about after Columbine, and after San Bernadino, and after Orlando, and after Virginia Tech. But let’s face the brutal and undeniable truth: if nothing was done after Sandy Hook, when small children were gunned down in their fucking classrooms, nothing is going to change now either.

I know it sounds beyond naive to suggest that the president simply change the laws, I do understand that it’s not that simple. But what I say to that is: why the fuck not?

Fuck the NRA. Fuck Charlton Heston and his cold dead hands. Fuck the argument that we need guns to defend ourselves because someone else might have a gun. Fuck any country where it’s easier to get a gun than it is accessible healthcare.

The real fear is when ordinary people like you and me can do absolutely nothing to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m less scared of a terrorist bomb than the lone gunman. I’m taking my daughter to NYC soon, and the fact is that we’re going to visit a country where the right to bear arms is more protected that the right to not be shot and killed.

Gun Homicides Per Capita. Image credit: Javier Zarracina/Vox.com

The families and friends of the {so far} fifty-nine people who were killed in Las Vegas wouldn’t have spared a thought that they might never see their loved ones again. They probably told them to have fun, had plans to meet up again soon, many would have first learned of the horror on social media. Some will never again get to hold their children, their spouse, the parents, their friends. How many of the people who survived will face years of post traumatic stress? How many of the survivors will be impacted by what they saw and experienced for the rest of their lives?

Let’s stop hashtagging everything, let’s stop saying things like “pray for Las Vegas”, and let’s just do what needs to be done.

Because while innocent people continue to die, waiting is not only the hardest part, it’s the worst part.

 

 

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