Background Noise

Martin and I were out of town this weekend for our marketing class. As soon as we got home last night, I made a beeline for the kids. I gotta get in their faces and hug and love on them, but the older three only tolerate about ten seconds of it.

This one, though, is all about the face smooshes. He even leans in for them now. And? He smells better than his siblings, too.

He’s long, and getting chunky, and though he’s not even 4 months yet, he fits in some of our leftover 6-9 month clothes. He’s also such a happy baby. We lucked out.

I know a lot of people are making beelines to their children today. At this moment, the reports are saying that 58 people were killed and more than 500 were wounded when a lunatic domestic terrorist (my words) shot at them out of his 32nd-floor hotel room.

This wasn’t in Syria or some third-world country.

These people were attending a country music concert.

In the middle of America.

In Las Vegas.

This topic dominated the news cycle today. Total saturation: television, Internet, social media feeds, radio updates. The biggest mass shooting in American history. And it was widely documented with personal mobile devices. Cameras that had been focused on a country music star were quickly pointed into the crowd as people dropped to the ground, or pulled tight together, or froze, or scrambled under the barrage to run away. All the videos are punctuated by the sound of that automatic gunfire.

I saw some of those video clips, and the sounds took me back to 2007 when I heard that sound of automatic gunfire all the time. Iraq, mostly, but in Afghanistan, too.  There’s a clip I shot one night as my team sat at the end of a flightline in Baghdad, waiting for our transportation to arrive. It’s dark and grainy, but you see my teammate leaning against his bags, calmly waiting. And you see others moving around. Life moving around as military operations continued around us.

And yet, there in the background is the rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat of rapid gunfire.

We knew it was a gunfight. We tried to identify the types of weapons being used. Wondered how long it would last. It was the first time I heard such sounds outside of a training environment. It amazed me how calm the others were, how nothing stopped. The gunfire was over there. Off-base. Somewhere that wasn’t our proximity. It was clear the others were accustomed to such noise.

It was a war zone, after all. It was to be expected.

To see and hear that in Las Vegas, though?

My fear is that everyday America has become the war zone, and that rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat is merely background noise. I don’t feel optimistic that things are going to change as a result of this, and so, life keeps moving with the expectation that incidents like this will happen.

I’m sad for the world today.