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                            Reflections of an October Sunday…

Good morning dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. On an entirely different topic & direction today. Last Sunday, tens of thousands poured into a Las Vegas music festival totally unprepared for fifteen minutes of hell. But hell is what they saw, & heard, & felt. Hundreds were injured. At least 59 are dead, savagely ripped from this world seemingly at random.

Sunday, October 1, 2017, saw the deadliest mass shooting in American history ~ a sentence which ironically has become all too common. Orlando last June. Sandy Hook before then. Previously Virginia Tech. Random acts of violence have become terrifyingly familiar.

At this point, we know little about the gunman who opened fire on the crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. We know he was 64, he was an accountant, he lived just outside of the city, & he had no criminal record. Information will be collected & disseminated, but we already know enough from this scene to say whatever else he was, he was a horrible, violent, & evil man.

We also know very little about the 59 he murdered ~ each life an unexpected tragedy. We have not yet met the spouses, the children, the loved ones left behind. We do not know them, & the extent of their heartache, but personally, my heart breaks for them, as one can feel just a faint part of their pain. My prayer is they will receive comfort, healing, & hope, I suspect each of them so desperately needs now, most likely in ways they have never needed before.

One story I read was of Sonny Melton. 1 He was an emergency room nurse in Tennessee. He attended the concert in Las Vegas with his wife, an orthopaedic surgeon. When shots were fired, he protected her with his body. His wife later told reporters, he “saved my life & lost his.”

So a week later, I wonder what the people who survived the massacre are feeling today.
Psychologist Dr Lane Ogden suggested & described their feelings as “a sense of unreality, of disjointedness ~ sort of like waking up on another planet where one is not sure what rules pertain or what expectations can be trusted as accurate to manage the shifted environment." They will have experienced a "cascade of fear, grief, confusion & anger" which still continues today.

Experiencing drama permanently alters the landscape, it demands a reshuffling of perspective, & a redefinition of what is possible within the realm of a frightening new reality & a shifted, more thinly stretched deployment of coping mechanisms. Tragedies forever change those who survive them.

Dr Ogden also noted: “the impact of dramas like this is cumulative with each reminder of our fragile mortality, combining with those previously, to strip us of our sense of stability, control, & the thin illusion of real safety.” Whilst many people will reflect the world is sick for these things to happen, I prefer to think the ‘world’ is not sick ~ on this occasion one person was sick.

One person does not represent the whole world I suggest. For example, the memory of those who displayed the ultimate act of love in the midst of an unimaginable act of hate will never fade.

There have been more than 270 mass shootings in the Unites states so far this year. At 283 year to date, this is about the same as our road deaths in New Zealand. On the reflections of Sunday October 1st, just remember friends; tomorrow is promised to no-one. 2

Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for the week ahead. I look forward to being with you all again next weekend.

Kenn Butler
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