The pointless search for a motive for the Mandaday Bay sniper drones on in the mainlining media. A pathologically individualistic society needs a pathologically individualistic motive.
The slaughter that emanated from Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, as impossible as it is to imagine, is really not so hard to understand if we see the sick individual in the context of a sick society. That has nothing to do with "getting your head around it."
Terrible tragedies like the Las Vegas mass murder have become normalized in America. In this case however, nearly a week after the slaughter in which a gunman methodically planned and executed as many people as he could in a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers, "No clear motive" has become an obsession.
The unspoken refrain from the people is: "Please give us something to pin this on, so we can explain it away." Not so easy this time, it turns out.
"In the past, the motive was made clear...but we've followed a thousand leads and have no motive," the authorities are saying.
Stephen Paddock left no manifesto, and had no apparent grudges.
Sympathy with ISIS was not expressed, though that demonic organization celebrates and tries to claim credit.
"We need to expand the definition of terrorism," the experts are saying, "because that will sharpen our response." That's false in more ways than you can shake stick at.
So why did a reportedly normal, wealthy, gambling guy in his mid-60's accumulate dozens of high-power assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition, and open fire on people from a quarter-mile away as if they were cattle in a slaughter yard?
Does America's twisted love affair with AK-47's have anything to do with it? "No, no, don't touch our guns," even ladies are now saying.
Clearly, misanthropy has been brewing in this land for years. Add America's fetish for guns, and the motivation isn't as mysterious as the media is portraying it.
Not everyone abides crowds. When a person who cannot abide crowds feels very isolated in a society in which people in crowds are having a good time, they grow to hate crowds. In Paddock's case, he clearly wanted to kill crowds.
Though methodically planned and prepared, Paddock's actions erupted from a black, bottomless well of misanthropy, which is a lot more common in this society than the news/entertainment complex would have you believe. Indeed, the POTUS hates humanity.
Isolation and loneliness are powerful motivators. The vast majority of people want to escape, avoid and remain psychologically comfortable. Most manage to do so.
One way to alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness is to herd together in a culture that sees every person as a little solar system unto themselves, with their family and friends orbiting around them.
Many people cannot pull off that illusion. And if one is not self-knowing and culturally aware enough, a craving to strike out can take root.
Hate grows like nerve agent in the heart and mind, killing all feeling until, in some unknown percentage of men (it's almost always a man) wants to take as many people out with him as he can.
The choice between conformist crowds and lonely gamblers is no choice at all. This misanthropic, isolated man who tried to kill the crowd was himself part of the metaphysical mob.
The blurring of news and entertainment, and the sentimental exploitation of the suffering of victims of murders and mass murders, has made voyeurs of us all.
A disturbing segment on Thursday night's Charlie Rose is a penultimate case in point. He creepily interviewed the producer/director David Fincher and two actors in a new Netflix series, "Mindhunter." He asked them to pretend to be experts on the Mandalay Bay shooter, just as they pretend to be experts in "the emerging behavioral science unit within the FBI in the 1970's."
Such disorder coincides with a new series idiotically entitled, "Wisdom of the Crowd." There is no such thing. There's only the stupidity of the crowd, and the evil in those who try to murder it.
What is the right relationship between the individual and society? That's a very subtle question, unanswerable with finality.
When a culture gets stuck in extreme individualism, as has in America, extreme individual pathologies ensue. When a society gets stuck in extreme collectivism, as has North Korea, the State becomes pathological and tyrannical. They are two sides of the same perverse coin.
What can ordinary folks learn from such a terrible crime, without media exploitation, and its sick script of heroes, "honoring the fallen," and 'what to do when you find yourself under fire' segments?
Nothing will change as long as the people continue sleepwalking through these waking nightmares, seeing them as completely individualistic when in fact this sick society is churning out people like Paddock.
There is no such thing as psychological comfort. To be disturbed is good. It spurs one to question and have insight into things, within and without.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
Published with permission of the author. All copyright remains with the author.
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