The tragedy in Las Vegas will result in millions of words spilled out over thousands of venues before some sort of consensus is reached about its cause and meaning.

Investigators are struggling to figure out why the high-stakes gambler opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 Sunday night from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel casino. He killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 before taking his own life.

However, one cause largely will be ignored. As a society, we seem to have gone to war against our own better nature.

It is as if we desire to marginalize or even destroy the very things that make possible the goals we say we want.

We say we want a colorblind society, and then powerful groups do almost everything in their power to categorize and separate people based on race.

We claim to want to do away with crime and drug trafficking, and then turn around and do almost everything possible to destroy the family structure and the sexual morality that underpins it when the negative correlation between the two is better established than almost anything in the social sciences.

We say we want educated adults and then turn schools into bureaucratic quagmires lead by people more interested in almost anything other than actual education.

At one time in America, the average person was essentially armed. In rural areas, people mounted rifles in the back windows of their trucks. Schools had shooting teams and students brought their rifles to school with them. Almost every household had hunting rifles and handguns.

Guns were handed down from one generation to the next. My father had a Civil War rifle given to him by his father, which was given to him by his.

The questions are these: Why did these people, who lived with guns all their lives, know nothing of people going into schools, public places or entertainment venues and opening fire at random, killing anyone who simply happened to be there? Why did they never expect a stranger with a gun to shoot at them?

What is the difference between then and now? Is it just a matter of the type of weapon that happens to be available if a person works hard enough to obtain it? What a naive assumption.

The night before the Las Vegas shooting, I looked briefly at several TV movies. In one, the “hero” was mowing down “bad” guys with an automatic weapon. The storyline made it clear I should be cheering on the “hero.” In another, an entire city was being destroyed by an alien. Buildings were falling and explosions were bellowing up on all sides of the “good” guys.

In another, zombies were being stabbed, beheaded, mutilated and run over by trucks until the “heroes” were splattered in blood.

Computer games typically award points by the body count.

Then when someone begins to act out any of these fantasies, they become the source of news all over the world until their names and backgrounds are known by hundreds of millions.

We propagate the things that produce what we don’t want, and then as if we hated our own souls, we destroy the things that produce the things we desire.

Dennis Clayson is a marketing professor at the University of Northern Iowa.


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