Once again, we find ourselves asking that single most perplexing one-word question.
Why did Stephen Craig Paddock take a small arsenal to Las Vegas and randomly target 22,000 people that had gathered to enjoy a country music festival?
It’s the question we find ourselves asking the most in the aftermath of something like the massacre that took place near Las Vegas’ Mandalay Hotel Saturday night.
But this time, after hearing from his brother, his neighbors, after combing his seemingly blightless legal record, the answer seems more difficult to discern.
It seems almost certain that something snapped inside Paddock, something that instilled in him an anger at his fellow man, at Las Vegas, perhaps at the world.
This was not the action of a man who, at the time of his crime, could have possibly been given a clean bill of mental health.
There are those to whom the why doesn’t really matter. When you lose a husband, a wife, a child, a father, a mother, does it really matter why? Even if reason is clear, a loved one is still gone. Forever.
But there are those among us, far removed from the carnage that took place at that concert, that return to that crippling question.
We want to know out of curiosity, for starters. Not a morbid curiosity, either. Was there something in Paddock that someone somewhere saw that we might recognize in others?
We want to know so we can live our lives as free as possible of the likelihood of something similar happening to us or our loved ones.
We will continue to ask ourselves why until authorities find some semblance of an answer. Surely this isn’t something that could happen for no reason. Surely, whatever that reason may be is something freakish in the nature of a single person that is now gone, the victim of his own mysterious sickness.
We want to know why so that we can ascertain whether we’re living in a new normal in our country. Must we live our comfortable American lives hounded by the fear that anytime, anyplace we could happen upon yet another Stephen Craig Paddock, a seemingly normal wealthy man enjoying his favorite pastime of gambling, speaking with neighbors and family in calm, even tones and nothing in his past that makes him so terribly different from any of us? Or any less prone to mass carnage as Paddock?
Certainly, we are not the victims in this. There are only 59 of them and they lie in the morgue in Las Vegas. They can’t wonder why and, to them, it does not matter.
But their families must wonder. An answer would make the ends of their loved ones’ lives no more final, for sure. But even when those we love come to death naturally, we often find ourselves asking why.
Why so soon?
In the case of mass murder Stephen Craig Paddock, there is a why. I do not believe God creates evil in a void.
We will one day know the answer.
The answer will not likely give us solace, but could help us to feel more safe about our futures and those of our fellow Americans.