I live about 3 miles from the Las Vegas massacre site. Since the news came flooding in a handful of hours ago, I have been one of many beings sucked into the tragedy, the trauma, the sadness and the outrage.
It’s a natural inclination to start pondering how and why this happened. Who on earth could intentionally cause death and destruction to thousands of people? What could the motive be? Did the shooter act alone or with a hate group? Is the media telling us the truth?
These are valid questions, but they don’t bring us to the heart of what’s happening, and they sure don’t bring us a sense of closure or safety.
To really understand how all this could occur, we have to look within.
Why People Kill Other People (It’s Not Because They’re Evil)
Every murderer has their own individual story and reasons for causing harm to another being, but I can promise it comes from one core issue: Pain. Deep, soul-ripping, mind-numbing pain.
Crime = cry – me.
In no way am I justifying the actions of anyone who chooses to harm another being. But this tendency we have to want to label anyone “evil” or “monstrous” isn’t helpful, true, or in any way healing. Their actions may be monstrous, but they are human. They are us.
We are all made of the same consciousness. Some of us shield immense trauma and use that to motivate us to be more compassionate and loving. Others experience a normal life yet spiral into anger and depression, and a select few of us will go forth and commit heinous crimes.
There is no formula of prediction, no handbook of horror. We desperately want to dissect the psyche of every killer so that we can feel safe in predicting the next psychopathic event. But it will never work that way. Darkness doesn’t wear a uniform mask. Darkness looks like you and me.
As difficult as it is to process, we will never be able to predict who among us will ultimately snap and cause harm. This is not a game of detective work, of criminal profiling, or even understanding psychology.
But there is a way to crack this code.
If You Want to Know Someone Else’s Darkness, Look Inside and Feel Your Own
When we divide people into “good” and “bad” categories, we create a tremendous disservice in that separation. We deny ourselves the opportunity to really understand the force that causes the worst events in our world.
If you desire to understand what causes someone to shoot and murder another being, spend all the time you can getting to know the pain you hold inside your heart. Although we say that pain is relative, it is also universal. The force that causes someone to commit suicide is the same one that propels an act of violence externally too. It’s also the same force that puts millions on anti-depressants, causes untold numbers of anxiety attacks, and affects everyone on one level or another.
There is a killer and a saint inside each one of us. The more we are willing to actually recognize and feel that energy, rather than deny and fight with it, the more we are likely to be part of the love in this world, not the violence.
It’s Not the Darkness That Causes Us to Lash Out. It’s Our Relationship to It.
I love to call that untamed space we spend most of our lives trying to avoid inside ourselves the “darkness”. I adore that term because it’s impersonal, and does not imply evil or goodness. Darkness is neutral. It’s just a space absent of light.
So how is it the force that causes rape, murder, and madness?
In truth, that space is not responsible. We are. Our relationship to the energies within is what creates the actions that result.
Conflict manifests when resistance appears. And resistance generates fear. If we agree to feel the trauma and hurt we carry, we are not in conflict with it. That doesn’t make it easy or fun in any way to feel, but it does make it healing when we say yes to those emotions.
I am not immune to horrific bouts of darkness. I have attempted suicide, been wildly self-destructive, and have had trips into depression that literally lasted years.
I am still the same person with all the same intensities now, but I no longer do anything to harm myself or others. It’s not that I only feel loving or happy emotions now – quite the contrary. The only difference is that I no longer fight with my shadow. When the pain comes in, as it has with ferocity since the Las Vegas shooting, I meet it with compassion and reverence. I do my best to feel those energies and welcome them with my whole heart. The result is poetic: When I welcome my own emotions, it is then effortless to honor everyone else’s pain. I say yes to what is. And that makes all the difference.
The Balance that is Always Reflected When Horror Happens
We’ve seen this so many times in our lifetimes now – 9/11, all the mass shootings – they bring out the worst, and the best, in humanity.
So while Vegas is reeling from senseless and tragic devastation, there is something magical happening here too.
Yesterday I literally couldn’t find a place to give blood because the lines stretched around city blocks with generous souls wanting to support the injured. Discussion boards and social media were teeming with volunteers willing to do just about anything to help. And the prayers you all are sending – I can promise you they are felt by many. I was sitting in them all this morning; feeling the incredible outpouring of love from the whole entire world.
I know some say that prayer isn’t action, but I humbly disagree. If that’s all you can do in times like these, it matters. Feeling and sending love always, always matters.
This is How to Heal Our World
You want to know how to prevent these events from ever happening to begin with?
Let’s treat each other with this love and respect every single day.
Compassion is the most powerful emotion we can express. It says immediately that the person we are caring for matters - that their pain is important, and deserves to be heard, expressed, and nurtured.
I can promise you that anyone who has ever gone on a killing spree didn’t feel heard, cared-for, or nurtured in this world. They hurt others because they hurt inside themselves. They develop disdain and hatred for a world they feel alienated from, and they depersonalize the people they end up hurting.
Compassion cuts through that animosity with a burst of healing light. Every single time we show love and empathy to someone, we break down their walls of destruction.
By contrast, every time we judge someone, hurl insults or nastiness, we build up the dam of darkness inside them.
This doesn’t mean we are all to blame when someone goes rogue and lashes out. It does mean we are empowered to do our part to prevent future disasters.
The solution is simple to describe, but unbelievably complex to execute:
1) Make it your mission to know, feel, and integrate your shadow. Do not run from or resist those painful emotions inside of you; make friends with them instead. Feel them with your whole heart. Tell trusted loved ones what is going on within. Be real about your feelings. Let them pass through you and be free.
2) The more you show that love and compassion for yourself, the more you will effortlessly give it to everyone you meet.
Like attracts like. The more we feel love, the more we give love, the more we receive love.
Of course, the reverse is true too.
So decide what kind of world you want to live in, and join me in showing up in that space in every moment. We don’t have to be perfect or graceful at this; just honest. Just real, transparent, and raw.
Let’s not wait for congress to pass gun laws that create a false sense of safety. Let’s keep being compassionate and loving and gentle with each other. In that space, guns don’t matter. People who love people don’t hurt people.
More of that, please.
And to my beloved city of Las Vegas, I fucking love you with all that I am. If anyone out there needs any support or love, I am here. Reach out. I will give you my all.
About the Author
Tina “Kat” Courtney, AKA The Afterlife Coach, has worked with Ayahuasca, Huachuma, and other sacred medicines for 12 years. She's trained with several maestros and has dedicated her life to the evolution of consciousness through the connection to the Earth. Kat (medicine name Oshgu Mishy), is a vocal advocate for the proper integration of all peak experiences that life and death have to offer. Kat is an Ayahuasca Coach, a psychedelics guide and counselor, and a go-to in times of crisis. If you need help navigating this world, she would be honored to walk by your side.