I think the problem is isolation.
I know we still know very little about the motivations of the almost unfathomable evil that was unleashed on Las Vegas Sunday night. And I do not purport to be any kind of expert in the psychology of such things, but as I have been pondering, praying and reaching for some kind of understanding—like so many of you—I keep coming back to this idea of isolation. Isolation to me is the opposite of connection. You can be alone and still feel connected, but even surrounded by people and perhaps especially when surrounded by people, IF you don't feel connected, then isolation creeps in. I believe that this killer had become so isolated, so utterly separate from anything truly meaningful that he began to believe isolating thoughts and eventually acted on them. We all experience these kinds of thoughts, but these thoughts don't take root in the mind of someone who experiences human connection. Someone who feels valued. This man seems to have had many of the things we associate with privilege and happiness in the world ... money, leisure, travel, exclusive access (ie, to casinos) etc... but in spite of these things, he was not truly connected. One of the statements I have found most insightful was something his brother said, to the effect that "He didn't have any reason to do this. No church, no religion ..." No church community and no connection or accountability to God or anything greater than himself. Exactly. This statement meant to absolve him of a likely motivation is in my opinion a key reason he might and perhaps did pursue this path. His brother also commented that they didn't talk. They sent text messages occasionally, but they were not (again) connected in a meaningful way as a family. The convenience of smart phones and social media is awesome, but they can't replace the essential nature of talking and listening and being present with those we love—and with others too. Associates at work, acquaintences, the checker at your local supermarket. We ALL need eye contact and heartfelt words, questions that exhibit genuine care, concern or even curiosity. We need to be needed and noticed. This atrocity in its randomness (but with the intent to do harm) is beyond anything most of us can comprehend, yet it is an end result of much that we see and experience everyday, as we become more isolated in our daily routines. We can accomplish so much with our technology that used to require human interaction and physical touch. We communicate, shop, pay bills, do our banking, etc... without saying anything or seeing anyone. I'm not sure that this kind of convenience is worth what might be the eventual cost.
This isn't intended as any kind of judgment or solution. It's just me wondering out loud and observing our world and deciding that maybe I can do better. I can take the time to SEE people and notice them. I can smile more deliberately and I can absolutely be a better neighbor and a better friend.
I'd love to read your thoughts.