Another Tragedy, Another Day, Another Unnecessary Funeral

Yesterday, I departed Las Vegas driving past the Festival Grounds across from the Luxor. Our honeymoon was coming to an end and there, in the empty parking lot, lay the memories of the 61 dead by gunfire. Two years ago, we stayed in a suite at Manadaly, a few floors below where the gunman had positioned himself. I spent a number of hours at the window, staring at the emptiness across the street, wondering about the dreams and relationships and potentials cut short.

Here we were, passing it again. Again, empty. A community sports center dedicated to the dead yet to be built upon its tarmac.

Today, we heard of the deaths at the Astroland music festival in Houston. I had long taken issue with the name of the festival. I know about musician Travis Scott’s love for the long closed park. I loved it too during my decade in Galveston. But during its final few years, it fell victim to gang violence, including shootings and stabbings. I was at the park when one such incident took place and was evacuated along with my fellow guests. For me, Astroland was a great park, but I also tie it with unnecessary violence, which is why I feared that would happen at the festival.

Violence has many faces. It’s far from just gangs, guns, or stabbings. It transcends affiliations, color, religion, identity.

My wife and I discussed how horrible it had to be for those trampled to death while we watched video taken by those there. We wondered if we were in the situation to help someone on the ground, would we be able to turn around and offer a hand or flee, knowing we could be the next victims of the mob.

I thought back to the Hajj, where in 2015, over 2000 pilgrims died in a panicked stampede. It does not matter if it’s 10 or 2000. It does not matter if it’s a gang or a panicked crowd. It does not matter if it’s a gun or a knife, or human feet.

Every lost sole represents dreams, relationships, and potentials cut short. And we should mourn them all.

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