Yesterday, another mass killing took place, this time in Nebraska. Quite frankly, the article on the incident is sickening. The situation was even less foreseen than the Virginia Tech shootings, and the killer (one Robert Hawkins, only 19 years old — my age) makes a statement which sends your stomach reeling:
The teenager carried his rifle into the mall, passing shoppers and decorations.
A department store employee was pressing a suit for a customer. A woman was making a quick stop to buy Christmas presents before picking up her son from school. Christmas music played.
The gunman stopped on the third floor and cut through the sounds with gunfire. Shoppers and employees at the Westroads Mall scrambled for cover in dressing rooms, clothing racks, offices and storage areas.
Eight people were killed and five wounded before the shooter ended the horror by taking his own life. He left behind a note that read, in part, “Now I’ll be famous.” [emphasis added.]
Is this the story of our times? Mass murders are vehicles to fame? Fame, which has somehow transcended the value of life?
It’s hard to deny that, at least in part, this is “our story.” As people confront the slightest difficulties — and his times, though rough, were far from worst-case, as far as I can tell — there seems no source of hope beyond making a mark on history. And, as has been seen in killings like Virginia Tech, those names that all too often come to the forefront of the news are those involved in major crime. In a world where everyone can publish their thoughts, everyone can create art, and everyone can run their own lives, true opportunity to “stand out” has been minimized. The backlash is excruciating.
One can only pray that this isn’t a trend that will continue, but my internal skeptic finds it hard to believe that it will not. The media hinges on stories like this one; Until either humans turn to nonviolence for entertainment or the media is restricted — not a good alternative, by me — then publicity will be given to those who demand it the loudest.
And what’s louder than an outcry of nine lives?