Dear Members of the Fordham Family,
By now you have probably heard about the appalling violence that took place in Las Vegas last night: more than 58 people killed, and more than 500 people wounded. It is already being called one of the worst mass shootings in the country’s history.
I must confess that it is difficult to write about this atrocity in a comprehensible, much less consoling, way. Today dozens of families are grieving their dead; hundreds of wounded are barely hanging on to life or beginning a long road to recovery, and their families are still coping with the shock and fear of it; thousands of survivors are beginning their first day after the worst day of their lives.
Tragedy? Sin? Evil? The words begin to lose their meaning after so many invocations following similar mass murders. Almost five years ago, in the wake of the murder of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, I wrote that words like horror and tragedy almost lose their meaning in the face of such loss, and that the pain and sorrow of the victims’ families is unimaginable, and must be nearly unendurable. And yet here we find ourselves again confronting the monstrous.
In any case, I am not sure with the news so raw that consolation is what I should be offering—assuming that is even possible. If you are angry, outraged, or grief stricken, I would say that those are appropriate reactions to the senseless carnage that occurred in Las Vegas. I would, however, urge all of us to move beyond outrage, anger and grief to advocacy for change–change in our gun laws. I would also urge all of us to engage in the ministry of affirmation in our own lives: console the grieving; comfort the perplexed; embrace the frightened; pray for those who mourn; and enter into solemn covenants to protect the vulnerable. (As Saint Paul says in the Letter to the Romans: ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’ (Romans 12:21). This, I believe, is the way to confront and overcome evil.
Finally, I know you join me today in keeping the victims, survivors, and their loved ones in your prayers and in your hearts, and in wishing them such peace as they can find in this dark hour.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J.
President of Fordham