The New York Times did not report the Las Vegas shooting in the Monday morning edition – it happened late Sunday night on East Coast time. My dentist told me Monday morning shaking his head in disbelief.
I was shocked at the number of people killed – 50, and I am sure with hundreds wounded there will be more (as of this writing now 59). It is emerging that life around the world and particularly in the United States has changed forever.
The wild wild west never ended in the United States. The weapons are more destructive today and capable of killing quickly and efficiently. And the same sense of retribution through being ‘wronged’ and going straight to violence doesn’t seem to have faded.
These high powered assault weapons are being sold to civilians every day with few questions asked. These acts could largely be prevented if not for the easy availability of weapons that are designed for war.
And there are fewer and fewer places we can feel safe. Events that attract people wanting to have fun and forget about the ever troubling violence in our culture are now subject to the very thing they are trying to escape. Large scale events, inside and in this case, outside, schools, houses of worship – the very places that are designed to be sanctuaries have been victims of unspeakable violence.
What struck me while listening to a reporter speaking about the many people who were shot was this: After hearing shots and seeing people flee, many froze looking for where the shots were coming from or imagining they were fireworks. He made the point that they were lacking an awareness of what was happening in the moment and not taking immediate action, which resulted in many deaths and injuries. This may or not be the case, but it makes me wonder what I would do in this situation. I’d like to think that the sound of ‘firecrackers’ should not be trusted outside of an event that explicitly announces them.
This reminds me of a powerful story told to me by a good friend whose husband who worked in the second tower of the World Trade Tower on 9/11. He escaped the second plane hitting his office on the 90th floor. Because he witnessed the first plane hit the first tower, he quickly decided to get out of the building, against the convincing – yet sadly inappropriate advice of the security personnel on his floor.
He tried to convince many of his coworkers to follow him – some did – but the ones who did not perished. It pains me to think about this. As it turned out, while running down the stairs at the 56th floor the second plane struck, he continued down to the ground level just in time to exit before the tower came down. Acting immediately and definitively saved his life.
The tragedy is that the more people who don’t act immediately, the more others do the same. This is commonly called crowd psychology. This field relates to the behaviors and thought processes of both the individual crowd members and the crowd as an entity. “Crowd behavior is heavily influenced by the loss of responsibility of the individual and the impression of universality of behavior, both of which increase with the size of the crowd”.
Becoming acutely aware of what is happening in the moment could save time when it matters. And that could save your and your loved ones life.
Stay aware, be safe……
……and keep dancing.
I sincerely hope that no one who reads this was affected in any way by the events in Las Vegas.
If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.
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