By Rick Fuentes
MNA Communications Specialist
There’s an old joke, “what’s the definition of a conservative? A liberal who got mugged. What’s the definition of a liberal? A conservative who lost his job.” More true than funny, it shows us how we cling to our political beliefs until something happens to us. Case in point, this country music guitarist who has publicly admitted he was wrong on gun ownership. He’s not alone. We get sick, we want good healthcare. We have kids, we want good schools. We experience a shooting, we want gun control. Conversely, when we don’t experience a shooting, we look the other way.
This is especially true with journalists who deal with a shooting, a fire, a hurricane, an earthquake every single day. It’s far too easy to become inured to tragedy, too easy to turn around and report on the next one, and too easy to say there’s not enough time to analyze what it all means. Yet, we must. Despite the words from Sarah Huckabee Sanders and right-wing pundits, this is the time to discuss reform. A tragedy has occurred (in a city where I lived for six years), and we must engage in a conversation with sympathetic logic to analyze the root causes that need answers.
The answers aren’t necessarily about guns, either. We know that’s a polarizing topic. We also know that not one solution would’ve prevented this tragedy that took 59 lives or could prevent future events. However, we do know that a sympathetic logic we can prevent some. We can help the situation. We can make our community safer.
While no one knows the motivations of the Las Vegas shooter, we can all agree that those who are considering suicidal thoughts and assaulting others need help. Whether they can self-identify and seek it themselves or have a loved one intervene, we need resources, staff, and facilities that will help the mentally ill.
Dozens of people were hurt in Las Vegas waiting for assistance after they were triaged. Patients were dispatched to smaller and less-equipped facilities when they could. Much of the discussion now will focus on why Las Vegas, a metro area of nearly two million, has only one Level 1 Trauma Center. That hospital, University Medical Center, has a foundation to keep it running also. It shows a lack of commitment to patient care, and this is not unique to Las Vegas. Sacramento has one Level 1 trauma center; Seattle has one; Oklahoma City has one; and the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho have none. Zero. By contrast, there are six Level 1 trauma centers in Phoenix alone. See the map here.
Psychologists say looking for meaning in the wake of tragedy is normal but also maddening because there are no easy answers. Philosophers, on the other hand, say zen is achieved through surrendering to meaninglessness. Just admit that we don’t know why. Instead, our leaders need to focus on the lessons at hand and be brave enough to address what we can and cannot improve. If for no other reason, this is what we all need for peace.