WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
• Who was Stephen Paddock really?
• Alarming suicide and gun statistics in USA.
• A lesson from Australia.
• A lesson from the Las Vegas shooter.
Woops! Part 3 of the climate change series is still coming (sorry for the delay). The next series is on Inspiration and Hope, although this blog doesn’t seem like hope until you read down further.
LAST WEEK WHILE STROLLING ALONG AN EMPTY BEACH ON THE OREGON COAST, I talked with a friend about gun statistics and death statistics. In this peaceful setting, with gentle waves rolling in from the Pacific ocean, we were about as far away from gun violence as we could be. The only potential violence was “sneaker” waves — large waves that appear out of nowhere and sweep folks out to sea to their deaths. In Australia we called them king waves. Right here, two strong young men died this way in 2011, we read on a plaque. The huge wave knocked them into a chasm between rocks glued with barnacles as sharp as knives. The men died in the churning water in three minutes, unable to be saved by four friends who were right there.
SUICIDE STATISTICS IN USA.
According to Fr Longenecker, the total number of suicides every day in the US is 120. This amounts to almost 44,000 per year, and half of these involve firearms. Further, vets who commit suicide in the USA number about 20 every day, and that’s over 7,000 per year.
LAST WEEK STEPHEN PADDOCK KILLED 59 PEOPLE IN LAS VEGAS with an assault rifle – a rifle designed for military usage.
GUN STATISTICS IN USA.
According to Nicholas Kristof, since 1970, more Americans have died from guns (including suicides, murders and accidents) than the sum total of all the Americans who died in all the wars in American history, back to the American Revolution. Every day, some 92 Americans die from guns (that’s over 33,000 per year). American kids are 14 times as likely to die from guns as children in other developed countries.
A LESSON FROM AUSTRALIA.
When Australia suffered a mass shooting in 1996, the country united behind tougher laws on firearms. The result is that the gun homicide rate was almost halved, and the suicide rate dropped by half. America’s gun homicide rate is now about 20 times Australia’s.
A LESSON FROM THE LAS VEGAS SHOOTER. This section is excerpted from a blog by Fr Longenecker.
The shooting in Las Vegas must have hit most Americans as it did me. We thought we were calloused and hardened to this kind of thing.
But this time there doesn’t seem to be any motive or reason. Who was this anonymous loser who stockpiled guns and ammo with the intent of mowing down innocent bystanders at random?
The only truth that one can draw from it is that Stephen Paddock was one seriously broken human being, and if him, then how many others in our fractured, desperate and wild society? How many others, like him, are middle aged to older men who came from a broken home, stumbled through a couple of marriages, made money, lost money and ended up empty and alone. Empty, alone and suicidal.
7 out of 10 suicides are white males. The rate of suicide is highest in middle age. 9/10 of them are from the lower socio-economic level.
In other words, Stephen Paddock was a man who did not have a cause. He had nothing to live for. It would seem he had his gambling, his girlfriend, and his money and that was about it. No religion. No faith. No love. No hope.
What men are there in our lives who live day by day on the edge of despair? I know several who talk about suicide on a regular basis and who have had friends who have taken their own lives or threatened to.
We can and must take the risk and enter that darkness and somehow help those who are in emptiness and despair to somehow see the light.
CLIMATE CHANGE: PART 3 WILL BE COMING SOON.
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The Gray Nomad ….. help someone to hope.
The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.
[From book of Isaiah, chapter 33]