The Consequences of Rage
I was disheartened the other day to hear a news story here in Vegas about a gas station clerk who shot a customer for refusing to wear a mask, then turned the gun on himself, taking his own life.
Like, what the actual hell?
Reading the details of the story, it all seems so unnecessary and tragic.
The mask mandate was still in effect, so the customer could either have chosen to put a mask on as requested or leave the establishment, which he ultimately did.
The clerk could have served the maskless man, anyway, and just been upset. But the clerk chose to refuse service to the customer.
The customer could have just let the matter go instead of leaving the gas station with three bags of chips he hadn't paid for.
The clerk could have just let the guest go with the stolen goods when the customer chose to leave but instead pursued him into the parking lot.
The clerk could have chosen to not record the customer with his phone and to avoid escalating things.
Either of the two men could have chosen not to get into the physical altercation that eventually led the clerk to pull his gun on the customer.
The clerk certainly could have chosen not to shoot the customer with said gun.
The clerk could have then chosen to try to help the customer, who was struck in the shoulder, from what I understand.
The clerk could have chosen not to kill himself.
It's just so sad. My understanding is that the customer will recover. He was driven to the hospital and received treatment and survived the attack.
But the clerk is dead, unecessarily.
And all originating from a disagreement about a mask and some stolen bags of chips?
I imagine there is more at play here. And I imagine there may be even more details news stories cannot provide that might help an outsider perhaps understand how things got out of hand so quickly and violently.
Sadly, incidents like this are not isolated. While researching details about the above incident, I came across news stories about fatal shootings related to mask disputes in places like Georgia, Michigan, Louisiana, New York, Germany, and Russia.
I found this article, written in August of 2020, interesting. The author writes about mask rage and how those who are decrying loss of freedom due to having to wear a mask are actually endangering their liberty by committing violent acts because of their unwillingness to comply with public health mandates.
Yet what I found more unusual about the above Vegas incident was that even though it was still a mask-defiant customer that may have instigated the conflict that resulted in a violent shooting and unfortunate suicide, it was the clerk who committed the most violent acts.
It's sad to me that things like masks and vaccinations have become so politicized. Any yet, I think masks are just a catalyst for a more underlying issue in our society.
I'm not talking about loss of freedom, either. I'm talking about rage.
I've read and seen enough stories about rage-induced incidents, often over what seem like unnecessarily trivial things to me.
I recall this incident (for which sentencing just occurred) where a woman on a bus here in Vegas had been swearing and yelling at other passengers. Another passenger, a 74 year-old man, told her she should "be nice to the passengers." This caused the woman to shove the man out through the bus door as he was exiting with such force, he flew out onto the sidewalk, his injuries eventually causing his death.
I recall a story a few years ago about a son who shot and killed his mother because they were arguing about what show to watch on TV. We see and hear all sorts of stories about road rage. Someone cuts another person off in traffic or honks too sharply, and it suddenly escalates into tragedy.
My husband will scroll through Tik Tok videos of people screaming at and berating each other often for the most trivial-seeming of reasons. Just absolutely losing control over whatever it is they are enraged about.
Those people who stormed the Capitol on January 6 a year ago—beating and tear-gassing police officers, breaking windows and doors—they were enraged.
What about all the domestic abuse cases where a partner becomes so enraged, it turns to murder. Think of the recent Gabby Petito murder by her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, where he throttled and strangled her to death or the Nicole Simpson Brown/Ron Goldman murders where the victims were viciously stabbed and Ms. Brown nearly decapitated.
And of course, a lot of this is about power, too, but when people feel threatened or wronged in some way, either justifiably or not, imagined or not, they get angry. But uncontrollable rage has irreparable consequences.
The lives lost. The trauma endured. The damage wrought. The families of the victims left devastated in the wake. None of it can be taken back, even if the enraged perpetrator is genuinely remorseful for his or her acts.
It's just sad to me that this rage so consumes too many and wreaks havoc on too many innocent lives.
I have no answers. It seems too simplistic to say we need to be kinder, less selfish, less reactive, and exercise more control over our impulses. But there is certainly a problem, and its existence brings about sad and tragic events.