What happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. Its pulsating shock waves raced out across the country, whiplashing into every American heart. The very thought of that merciless rain of hot lead thudding into the flesh of unknowing innocents just elicits sad gasps of incredulous agony.
It only took a few hours for the predictable flood of media and political responses. Many were the standard clichés mentioning prayers, thoughts, shock and horror. Others sought explanations for this massacre or explored the means to prevent similar events from ever happening again.
We human beings are created with both head and heart. This means we should always respond to circumstances both intellectually and emotionally, but never both at the same time and never confusing head and heart.
Allow me to offer an example or two: If I need a surgeon, I want a doctor to whom I relate and who relates to me. When we discuss my surgery, I want him to know of my physical and emotional state and I want him to know of my parents and of my children. I want a surgeon with heart. However, once I am on the table in the operating room, I don’t want him thinking of anything but the technical medical and anatomical problems beneath his skilled fingers. I want him to be all head. Yes, I do want both head and heart, but at different times. When I sit in his consulting room anxiously discussing my prognosis, I don’t want to hear just dispassionate clinical analysis; I need some warm sign of his caring. During the operation, I don’t want him distracted by any emotional considerations.
Similarly, any wise young woman contemplating marriage to a man should engage in both a head and a heart analysis. Is he someone stable, upright and responsible? But also, is she romantically attracted to him? Again, confusing these two important but separate analyses will cause possibly tragic error. If she dismisses concerns about his moral and financial habits because she can’t take her eyes off his pleasing looks, she’d be heading for trouble. If she feels physically revolted by his repugnant hygiene but finds herself drawn to the secure and moral atmosphere he radiates, she’d probably be making a serious marital mistake.
It is entirely proper that our first response upon hearing of the Vegas massacre should be via our hearts. We empathize with the pain of those who lost loved ones and those whose lives were forever changed during those hours of horror. We feel the hurt. We feel the fear. We feel burning hot anger towards the horrible human who caused all this suffering. We feel bewilderment at how it could have happened. And if we didn’t experience all these feelings and if we failed to feel for those who were there, we’d be monsters.
But if we analyze the event and propose public policy solutions whilst yet in the grip of those feelings we’d be fools.
I hope these words spark a dialogue. Please note that comments may not be posted or answered quickly as our office and store will be closed from sunset Wednesday night PT through Saturday evening in observance of the opening days of Sukkot.