I lived in Vegas for a time and loved it. I failed to see the cinematic version of Vegas Hollywood portrays. I don’t doubt its existence. It just wasn’t as prevalent. Instead, Vegas welcomed this fish out of water Kentucky girl. From people at the grocery store to fellow residents in the apartment complex, all the way to the Strip, people accepted and ribbed about my accent. To which I replied, “I don’t have an accent. You do.”
At 22 years old, I traversed the Las Vegas Strip at night, more often than not alone. Yes, I grasp the foolishness of that now. But then, I never felt threatened or scared. Be it noon or two in the morning, I never encountered someone who gave me pause.
It’s hard to equate my Vegas experience to a madman randomly stabbing people over a picture. In 2017, I stood in stupefied horror watching the news of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. How could that possibly be the Vegas I know and love? The Vegas I returned to with my young sons?
The answer is as simple as it is complex. We cannot keep desensitizing ourselves to violence in movies, books, games, music, etc. and expect to live in a peaceful world. All the gun regulations in the world won’t stop a madman. If Stephen Paddock didn’t have an arsenal to unleash that October day, he could’ve driven a car through the festival. And possibly killed more people than he did with his guns.
We’re looking the wrong way. We’re looking at the outward when it’s the inward we need to attend. Celebrities yammering on about gun control but look at their movies. They intentionally get violent sexualized movies under the R rating in order to reach a younger audience. Listen to the music your kids are listening to. Even worse, look at the behavior of the artist as they perform onstage at awards shows aired during Primetime viewing. How can these people possibly complain about sexualization and violence sprouting from the seeds they plant? And every new venue pushes the envelope a little more.
Sitting back and saying, “I’m against gun violence” isn’t enough. Angrily calling for more gun laws is a copout. What are we doing in our homes to raise the next generation? How much do we know what our kids see online? How much violence are we exposing ourselves to? Asking these questions is difficult. Answering them is harder. But pursuing a more peaceful world will not be easy. It’s the hardest task we have.
The one thing we got right is naming love as the answer. Weigh the amount of love and violence exposure in your home and see how the scales hold. Do you and your children know that regardless of what you’ve done, there is a God who loves you and is waiting for you? Even if you don’t believe, don’t you owe it to the pursuit of peace to explore the possibility? Shutdown all violent pathways to your mind. Turn on Contemporary Christian music, read the Bible, discuss and heal the generational pains in your family, and viciously pursue love. Take a week and immerse yourself and family in the love of God and it will change your life.