Las Vegas Massacre: Philosophy and Psychology

In News, psychology by Liliyan HassanLeave a Comment

Am sure you have heard of the sad news from Las Vegas where a man opened fire at a crowd of people who were attending a country music concert killing 58 people and injuring more than 500. In trying to see where such acts come from and the mentality behind them, I am dragged into a spiral because somehow the dynamics in that act feel so similar to any other tiny wrong. For example, shooting a bunch of people is almost the same as kicking people out of your house (one second they are there and the next they are not). One is a problem and the other is a calamity. And I have decided that the reason behind these similarities is due to the fact that, indeed, such calamities should not have happened at all. Let me explain to you what I am saying: Imagine if I use water to drown some man. The drowning of that man will be similar to anything that his family and his wife and his children encounter (it will be hard for them to get over it). Because instead of him being drowned, he could have been swimming in that water…and instead of him being drowned, he could have been making soup using water…. and the connection of these other possibilities to the drowning becomes how some people may die while swimming and how sometimes a fire may start and kill someone while he is cooking something on the stove. Hence, if we look at the people killed at the massacre, we can say with an ever so casual tone that they could have died in a car accident and they could have died falling off the steps and they could have died from a heart attack. Although we can also say, they could have been here today listening to music in their car and they could have been here today listening to music in their house and they could have been here today listening to music while walking to class. When something should not have happened, everything becomes similar to that event where the only thing different is the cruelty and the lack of sympathy that distinguishes it from all other possibilities. Hence, the shooting is similar to anything and everything except, due to the fact that it should not have happened, it is distinguished by a level of cruelty and lack of sympathy not found anywhere else.

There is no reason why that massacre should have happened. Yet, somehow we still want to find out the reasons why that man did what he did. And the reason why our minds still demand of us to know the reason instead of us being content with “he did it for no reason” is because this “no reason why” is meant to be benign in nature. Meaning, if I was to say, “why did you leave your socks there?”— you may answer, “no reason”. This “no reason” is neither great nor is it malicious. Hence, when it comes to the massacre, this “no reason” is NOT good enough of an answer. Meaning that this massacre does not hold the goodness necessary for it to be seen as benign. So there is no reason why this man did what he did…and that is not good enough of a reason and neither is it good enough for the no reason under which it happened. And in such situation, the reason becomes just that and more:

The reason, which is neither a reason nor is it a “no reason”, for why such massacres happen can be summarized as us not being content with having no reason and us not being content if there was a reason at all for why such massacres happen. Hence, the issue is one that points us to “content” itself. Yet, if I was to say that the person who commits such acts is not content in the life he has and that he feels depression, then that is only one side of the story that does not explain why he chose to to express his lack of content in that manner. In relation to a massacre, content is not in relation to one’s self only but it is in relation to influencing the idea of “content” in the minds of people who remain alive after the tragedy. Hence, to feel content in society and the problems that are in it through the manipulation of one’s content as it related to such massacres is the by-product of such shootings. People in society will feel more content in that which was previously seen as mediocre and they will feel less content with the idea of focusing on change past resolving such incidents from happening. For if people were to go to another concert that is not so great, they will think, “at least we did not get shot at” where previously they would have demanded a refund, for example. Society starts to measure content, happiness, and satisfaction from the point of view that says, “something much worse could have happened”. In that, mass shootings often hinder progress in society as they take our attention away from all other problems and merely focus all our efforts on feeling and acquiring this new definition of “content”.

Content: there is no reason why this man did what he did…and that is not good enough of a reason and neither is it good enough for the no reason under which it happened. “No reason” is not good enough of a reason for such massacre. Hence, the shooter has the reason for why it happened and we are the ones who do not have that reason but we are the ones who are left with the victims of that reason—which is not a good reason at all. Right away you see a “god-like” behavior from the shooter towards the victims. The people become ones who existed for no good reason in relation to the crime. If the shooter has the reason for why he shot at these people, then he is a place of “reason” that is of importance to us. And if it is of importance to us, then what we hold as important to us is a place of “reason that is no good”…hence, what we would be holding as important is that which is “nonsense”.

To live in a world where we are scrambling to understand “nonsense” is something that does two things: First, it creates arrogance and pride–for example, it will be very obvious that this person is stupid and so wrong and so evil and so immoral to so many people where the level of content in what constitutes goodness and what constitutes right is satisfactory in relation to anything else. Second, it creates subordination and inferiority—in terms of the self, as the self of one lives in relation to the selves of others, the threshold of self-value is lowered in general for all people. Within ourselves we feel we are good people but it is being measured by the lowering of the standard. This creates a “conflict gap”. This gap acts, in general, as an instability in reaction. This is the reason why people feel like they do not know where they stand in relation to this world… it is a sense of uncertainty, if you will. Although this uncertainty appears to be in relation to one’s self in a world where others may do something insane, the truth is that this “nonsense act” from others is already plugged into our minds as it is measuring future expectations. Otherwise, why are we feeling this “insanity” from others? Meaning: if we are merely feeling uncertain due to how this shooter behaved, then within ourselves we have accounted for his behavior as being part of ourselves in relation to what to expect. Again, this is created by a threshold lowering in terms of overall value and how that creates a gap in how we feel about ourselves as we may feel like we are bit too good to do such thing ourselves albeit becoming more uncertain and unsure (conflicting feeling by the conflict gap). This has to be part of the motive for the gunman albeit I am certain he did not calculate it in such manner. But: the feeling that the gunman felt when committing such act may feel a bit like “pride” and it may feel a bit like “worthiness” and it may feel a bit like, “entitlement”. Because in his mind, here is how that played out: The lowering of the threshold is something that feels like one is the owner of goodness itself (whether he realized it consciously to be so or not). The lowering of the threshold for others will feel like one is above them without them knowing it as if others are foolish. The lowering of the threshold is something that makes one feel like he is the owner of the mystery and the unknown. Hence, part of the motive is a “justified” ill will against people backed by feelings of pride and entitlement.

These things are not part of a distorted reality but these things are creators of a distorted reality. I honestly think that the shooter was someone who felt like playing a role in an action movie with a Las Vegas backdrop while employing numerology as part of a gambling code that an assassin might use since he seems to be one who is obsessed with numbers and making sure that numbers added up. He was an accountant… The hotel floor is 32… there were 23 guns in the hotel room (opposite to the floor number)… the concert has the number 91 (Route 91). If one was to add the numbers on the date of the crime: 1+0+1+1+7=10—–> (1+0)+1+17= 19.. if you reverse those you get 91. I know that usually such things are coincidental and conspiracy theory like; but in this case since it is Las Vegas and you have numbers in gambling and due to him being an accountant, I think such things are within the rounds of deliberate acts. The man seems to be obsessed with gambling action movies as he has set up few cameras in his room. I think he fantasied himself to be part of a “based on a true story” action thriller that would be made about this event. Usually I am very against such conspiracy reasons, but I feel that to be true in this case. Feel: am sure it felt something like that to him, don’t you think? Looking at the lights in Vegas is something movie like. Imagine carrying suitcases filled with guns up to your Las Vegas room… one MUST and cannot possibly feel anything but a sense of being like one of the bad guys in a movie while doing that. I cannot imagine taking a suitcase full of guns up to a Las Vegas room without feeling that way. The way this would feel is within the “conflict gap” range of feelings. It satisfies the reality distortion, it makes certainty out of the uncertainty it creates, it makes one feel justified in feeling pride, it makes one feel okay with seeing others as inferior, it makes one feel fine with the idea of seeing others as foolish bystanders,  being an accountant fits within the “calculated crime” numerology mystery ownership as it makes it something grounded, and finally the “movie fantasy” makes up for the lack of sympathy and the cruelty where the entire picture from the outside looking in feels like it belongs within the rounds of reality if it was within the rounds of non-fiction.

Yet, within this entire dynamic, we still need to remember that there is no reason why this man did what he did…and that is not good enough of a reason and neither is it good enough for the no reason under which it happened.

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About the Author

Liliyan Hassan

Founder: Go for Women

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